Sunday, April 29, 2012

She Chose To Believe

We lost a good friend this month.  She was a lady of great faith.  She had courage.  She sought after truth.  She chose to believe. She loved people and spent her life serving them.  She was a caring wife, mother, and grandmother. She left a wonderful heritage. She died on April 6th at the age of 76. 
I first met Margot Blaser-Poth at their apartment in Basel in the summer of 1963.  We had knocked on their door and taught her husband, Dieter Blaser, a week earlier. We told him that the true gospel of Jesus Christ had been restored to the earth through a prophet.  He believed us, he prayed with us that afternoon, and he invited us back.  We were excited to meet with Dieter again.  He was friendly and receptive, but we were apprehensive to meet his wife.  We didn't know her.  Our fears were relieved when Margot met us at the door with open arms.  She had listened to our entire discussion with Dieter through a crack in the kitchen door the week before, and she was more excited to see us than he was.   
Margot and Dieter were baptized a few months later, and they and their three daughters have been like family to us ever since. They were only 28 at the time, eight years years older than me, and our families have grown up together.  Even our grandchildren know each other and have played together.  We're looking forward to a visit from their daughter, Caroline, and family here in London in a few weeks. On one of their family's visits to the U.S., Dieter presented us with a diskette containing 1100 names of genealogy on Pat’s Schwendiman lines that he had extracted from Swiss ancestral records in Thun.
Peter and Bea
Peter and Bea (their daughter) came to see us two weeks before she died.  I wish we could have gone to visit Margot once more, but none of us knew she would leave us so quickly. I was invited to speak at her funeral, but we couldn’t leave our mission. I was grateful to have been able to speak at Dieter’s funeral six years ago.  Prior to my remarks, we listened to a recording he had prepared to be played at his funeral.  He said that when we first taught him, he looked into my eyes and just  knew I was telling the truth -- that I would not lie to him. Wow. That's trust. That's faith!  
Dieter and Margot
I recall that when Margot and Dieter came to visit us about 12 years ago we went to the Visitors’ Centre at Temple Square.  I will never forget standing in front of The Christus, when Dieter looked over at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Don, I love that Guy."  I cried too.  I often think of Dieter when we stand in front of The Christus in the London Temple Visitors’ Centre.  People often have difficult times in their lives-- times of fear, worry, doubt and frustration. Where can we turn when our faith is weak and it's hard to believe?  I think the answer comes from Jesus.  In the brief narration we play, he says simply:  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. (Matthew 11:28-29) 

Since I had to give a talk on faith in Addlestone this morning, I've been thinking about what causes people like the Blasers to believe, while others do not.  Some have sufficient faith to act and accept the gospel, while others don’t.  Experience has taught me that belief is a choice we make.  We can say, I will believe.  Or we can say, I will not believe.  Some seem to make this choice easily, and early in life, while others may struggle throughout their lives and never really choose to believe with an active faith.

April 29, 2012
Here in England, the fastest growing religion and way of life seems to be atheism. Tradition and national pride seem to be more important than belief in a living, caring God.  Like much of Europe, this may be a byproduct of having a national, state religion run by men, government, and committees. When our wonderful sister missionaries testify of Christ, or when we do, a few will believe, but many will not.  I pray that more of them will, because I know that choosing to believe in God and follow the Savior can make a great difference in our lives. The cumulative, positive effect of a person choosing to trust the Savior and follow His teachings over a lifetime can be enormous.  To me, Margot and Dieter Blaser are exhibit #1.  I miss them both.          ~Don~

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