GUEST BLOGGER: DENNIS HADLEY
|The Hadleys and Hna. Lund |
at the Christmas Conference, 2010
Since returning from our mission in Barcelona, I have had the message of Christ’s great love and mercy reinforced in a very meaningful way. As Sister Hadley and I worked at the Young Adult Center, we became aware of a young adult who had been active in the Church during his young life; but as he grew older, he became completely inactive. He was the topic of conversation several times as we met with the young adult council to discuss ways to activate those who had lost the way.
This young man actually came by the Center on one occasion, so I “cornered” him and asked if I could visit with him for a moment. We found a quiet place to visit; and in the course of our conversation, he told me that while he still believed in the principles that he had been taught as a child, he knew that he could never come back into activity because he had made so many serious mistakes that he could never be forgiven. We visited for quite some time. I suggested that he might want to make an appointment to visit with his bishop. I also asked if we could meet again. He was agreeable. During the next few months, I met quite regularly with this young man. He continued to see himself in a very negative light. Each time my focus during our meetings was to help him understand that nothing he could have done in his young life would had disqualified him from the Savior’ love. Nothing he could have done put him beyond the reach of the infinite Atonement.
|With Archie on 28 Feb 2011|
The young man’s mother became aware of our visits. She invited Sister Hadley and I to their apartment to visit with them. She invited us to a birthday celebration that the family was having for this same young man. She invited us for dinner a few times. Her effort became an effort to support us and her son in his return to Church—if he would ever have a desire to do so.
Over the months, I began to see small but significant changes in his attitude. His church attendance began to change from no attendance at all to sporadic and, finally, to almost weekly. During one of our visits, he reminded me that one of Spain’s significant holidays was coming up. He said it would be a real challenge for him because on major holidays his uncles would come to pick him up for the evening. They would first spend the early evening drinking at a local bar. Then his uncles would take him to pick up local girls for the rest of the evening. The young man and I spoke about some things that he could do to avoid trouble! The following week, we met again. I was afraid of what he might have to report. So among the first things that I said was, “Well, how did it go?” He reported the following. His uncles came by. He went with them. When they went to the bar, the uncles ordered alcohol. He ordered a Coke. They spent some time drinking until the uncles were quite drunk. Then the uncles told him that it was time to go looking for the girls with whom they would spend the rest of the evening. To my great relief, the young man told me that he said to his uncles, “It’s time for me to go home.” Then he said, “I knew I would be coming today to visit with you, and I just couldn’t disappoint you.”
From that day forward, things began to improve in his life dramatically. His was not a life without challenges. There were still studies to complete, daily employment to attend, “uncles” to whom he had to say “no.” But he rose to nearly every occasion. When we left Spain, he was attending his meetings every Sunday. He still struggled somewhat with negative feelings about himself, but gradually he began to see himself in a better light.
We kept in touch by email and Facebook on a regular basis. He wrote of his struggles and his triumphs. I tried to respond with words of encouragement. One day an email came saying that he was leaving Spain to live in another country. I was very concerned that this change of address might let him slip back into old habits. But just the opposite was true. Just a few months later, I received an email telling me that he was in a very serious relationship with a young lady who was LDS. Then came another email saying that he thought it was time to get engaged. Then an email saying that he was engaged.
|Some of the JAS bid a fond farewell to the|
Hadleys at the Barcelona Prat Airport,
7 Mar 2011
About three months ago, an invitation arrived at our home. It was an invitation to attend a temple sealing and a reception that followed. Time and distance prevented Sister Hadley and I from attending these events. But time and distance could not stop the tears of joy that I shed. Christ’s infinite atonement had reached the heart and soul of a young man who had been lost. That Atonement had lead him to the sealing room of the Holy Temple.
During this past Christmas season, I received a special Facebook message from this young man. He offered thanks for that fact that I had been able to stick with him—even across many miles and much time. Then he said, “I am grateful that Jesus has given me a second chance. Life is not without its struggles, but I have a wonderful wife to whom I am sealed eternally. And I want you to know that a few weeks ago I was called to serve as the Elder’s quorum president of my ward.”
Again, my tears flowed as I felt the great love that our Redeemer has for all of us. He loves us and searches us out—even when we are lost in the narrow streets of Barcelona, Spain. When we reach out to him, He lifts us. It is not just second chances that he gives us because two chances would be too few for almost all of us. The chances that his gives are at least seventy times seven—and probably many, many more.
As missionaries we had the opportunity to share the love that Christ has for all of us. But that sharing does not need to end with the end of the mission. Just as there are lost souls in Barcelona, there are lost souls in Salt Lake City, Utah; in Boise, Idaho; in Preston, England; in Cadiz, Spain; in Dallas, Texas; in Santiago, Chile or wherever in the world we live. We need to continue to reach out to them because we are the hands of the Savior, and His Atonement will bring us all together again one day in the kingdom of His Father.
Elder Dennis and Sister Lana Hadley supervised the Barcelona JAS Center and returned home in March 2011. They live in Ogden, Utah.
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