Today in my Family History Class we talked about Internet Research and all the ways we can share our family history stories with others. One of those ways is blogging. I told my classes today about a sweet experience I had last week at our quilt retreat in California. Last Tuesday, we took a break from our machines and went to visit a delightful quilt shop in Vista called The Fat Quarter Shop. I was wandering from room to room in this wonderful store filled with fabrics, patterns, displays and quilts. It was like heaven taking it all in. There was a classroom full of quilters who had come for a class and they had a lovely buffet of food and projects that I noticed from the doorway as I passed.
I continued wandering, picking up some fat quarters of fabric to purchase and a pattern or two, and as I passed by the classroom, a lady noticed me there. She left the class and came to where I was studying a pattern. She stood right in front of me and asked, “Are you Ann Lewis?” I did not know her. She had a kind and friendly countenance. “Yes, I am,” I answered, wondering how she knew my name. She was about my age, and I immediately felt comfortable with her knowing me. Then she said, “I read your blog every day,” and tears filled her eyes as she embraced me and thanked me for my words.
Her name is Shelley Holladay. She told me that her husband died 2 years ago of a brain tumor. She said, “In that hard, dark time, I found your blog, and your words have given me joy and hope and goodness to ponder.” As we embraced again, I marveled that my words, written in a cluttered office in Orem, Utah, somehow found their way into her life, there in southern California. I felt an immediate connection to Shelley, and love for her. It was an interesting feeling to meet a total stranger who knows me. She knew what I looked like, she knows my children, she knows what’s on my front porch. She knows what I think about and wonder about. She knows what I value and believe. I felt at home with her and thought last Tuesday, that we would be dear friends if we lived near each other. We’d have lunch, we’d talk about our families and things we believe. I felt like I found a sister and friend. It was the highlight of my week.
Today in class, I remembered Shelley Holladay in California and felt grateful for the gift of communicating and sharing. It’s not always easy to put words out into the world, but I’m learning that it is a good thing– for me, and maybe for some of you who are strangers to me right now. Maybe someday we’ll also meet in some random place and we will embrace and know each other.
A month or two ago, Elder David Bednar spoke at BYU’s Education Week. Below are some of his concluding words. He spoke of flooding the world with goodness through social media. The blessings he promises as an Apostle of Jesus Christ are worth every effort to continue writing my fingers to the bone.
In the seventh chapter of the book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, Enoch foresees the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days, the gathering of Israel, the Second Coming of the Savior, and the return of Zion. I now invite your undivided attention as we consider together elements of four verses from this chapter:
“And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying: … wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth.
“And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance. …
“And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;
“And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood” (Moses 7:59–62; italics added).
My beloved brothers and sisters, what has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning—but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform the trickle into a flood. Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth—messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy—and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood.
I pray we will not simply participate in a flash flood that rises swiftly and then recedes just as rapidly. I am not suggesting a one-time glitzy initiative from which we quickly move on to the next task on our lengthy list of gospel things to do. We need not become social media experts or fanatics. And we do not need to spend inordinate amounts of time creating and disseminating elaborate messages. As Elder M. Russell Ballard recently taught, digital technologies should be our servants and not our masters (see M. Russell Ballard, “Be Still, and Know That I Am God” [Church Educational System devotional, May 4, 2014]; broadcasts.lds.org).
According to our desires and circumstances, each of us can contribute consistently to the growing flood of truth and righteousness. We should press forward using the Lord’s pattern of “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30).
Imagine the impact we can have as hundreds of thousands and millions of members of the Lord’s restored Church contribute in seemingly small ways to the rising floodwaters. May our many small, individual efforts produce a steady rainfall of righteousness and truth that gradually swells a multitude of streams and rivers—and ultimately becomes a flood that sweeps the earth. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
We have been and are blessed in so many ways; and where much is given, much is required. As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I invoke this blessing upon you: that you may come to understand more fully the spiritual significance and blessing of living in the dispensation of the fulness of times, that you may have eyes to see clearly both the possibilities and the pitfalls of the remarkable technologies that are available to us today, that you may increase in your capacity to use these inspired tools appropriately, and that you may receive inspiration and guidance about the role you should play in helping to sweep the earth as with a flood of truth and righteousness. As you press forward in this holy work, I promise you will be blessed in mortality in the individual, specific, and necessary ways that will prepare you for eternity. I so bless you.
I witness the Father and the Son live. The Savior stands at the head of His Church in these latter days. He is hastening His work, and no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing. Of these things I testify in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.