Tuesday, October 27, 2009


SPRASNIKOM to ME! 10/27/2009
Clear skies with occasional cloud coveringTemp 19F at 9:00 pm Tuesday 10/27/09Low tonight 10F Wind 3-5 mph

Sprasnikom is a greeting of congratulations given on celebratory occasions. In this case, I give it to myself on my birthday because today I am beginning my 68th year of experience on this world and 67 years of absence from God's world where I was given a spirit body and was taught at the knee of those I have forgotten for the moment.

With more of my life behind me than ahead, I often think of those days, as if there were days in eternity before my birth, and wonder how it all came about. How did I progress from being a disembodied intelligence to becoming a spirit child of Heavenly Father to eventually warranting birth into this mortal existence with its wonders and challenges.

What did I love? Whom did I love? Who were my classmates and my friends? Did I love music then? With whom did I make promises much like the "I'll write you every day" promises after a summer together or with whom did I make more solemn oaths to find and bring into God's kingdom during mortality because I was to be born in the Covenant and they were not. Have I done well? Have I found them? Of those we have met here or in Sacramento or in Germany or on cruise ships or in elevators, or . . .? Have I found them?

I feel sure that I found some of them, those whom I recognize immediately as strangers that I know intimately, and I think I have planted seeds with some others who might be them, but where are the others? I know I found Sister Cindy and that's an oath that I fulfilled, not without doubts and not without wanderings before she made the commitment to baptism, but with complete fidelity and eternal continuance once she joined me in the Kingdom. How can I find the others?

Well amidst all of this reminiscence, I enjoyed the day with many renderings of "Happy Birthday"; cookies from Julia; candy from Pyotr & Olga; lemon-chicken, mashed potatoes, and crispy non-chocolate chip cookies from Sister Cindy; a baptism commitment from Lenna at dinner tonight with Sisters Woodhouse and Boggs; and three playings of Neil Diamond's "America" and two playings of John Denver's "Country Roads" all played much too loud. What a day.

Thank you for all who remembered me, my family, my Russian friends, my missionaries, my great companion and even my friends in Sacramento. Diane Keys, my favorite sister, set up SKYPE in her Seminary class and called this evening about 7:30 pm which was about that time AM in Sacramento, where I got a rendering of Happy Birthday and the opportunity to tell the class, made up of many of our Sacramento friends, about our mission, the weather, the people, and our goal to get 62 more baptisms in the mission by December 31. I explained the background and asked for their prayers for our missionaries. Actually, I, we, were an object lesson for the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5, being grafted into a tree in the nethermost part of the vineyard.

I am grateful for the day, grateful to be allowed to be here on this mission in Siberia, grateful for Sister Cindy and my family whom we had to struggled to find, grateful for my health, grateful for the means to pay for this mission, and grateful to Jesus Christ as my personal savior and the redeemer of all mankind. I don't remember the meeting, nor the confrontation between Heavenly Father and Satan, but I know that it took place, I know that I was there, I know that I choose to follow Jehovah, and I know that he did do what he promised to do for me and for you as part of Father's plan for us.

Now it is up to me, and each of us, to do what WE promised to do. There is no sacrifice, there is no labor, there is no gift, there is nothing within our grasp that we can do to repay that Jesus of Nazareth for what he did for us. If we labor our whole lives to serve him, still we are in his debt. Surely just two years of service is not enough, but it is there on the altar just the same.

I hope that each of us will realize our debt to Jesus Christ and continue to put our sacrifice on the altar. What is it that we can, or are willing to, sacrifice, to give, in His service. What Sister Cindy and I have done here is no sacrifice. It has been a great blessing. I have tried to find the sacrifice in it and just cannot. In fact, we are planning our next mission right now. Oh, I miss artichokes and ripe tomatoes from the garden and my hot tub, and playing Hand and Foot with my friends, but I guess I will have to find something else to sacrifice because being here isn't it.

Happy birthday Elder Grampa.

What a guy. What a country.


Mom/Cindy said...

One more great day with Elder Dougie!
Love ya, Me

Shannon said...

Love you dad. Happy Birthday. I am glad you were born, were & are valiant in the gospel, found Mom (was patient with her conversion) and then found each of us children. Certainly our lives were meant to be together forever and you were a missionary to each of us. Keep up the amazing work you are doing in the field of Siberia. And yes, I will put you in the garden with your hat...

Emily said...

happy birthday!

Carol said...

Dear Elder and Sister Simmons,
This is Carol Gneiting, Sister Gneitings mom. She gave me the address to your blog so I hope that was ok and I hope you dont mind if I follow your blog so that I can see what is happening in your mission. I have really enjoyed readed it so far. What an awesome experience you must be having. I know that there is a great work to be done there and I know that you will blessed for all of the work that you are doing to bring the truth of the gospel to the people of Russia. Have a great day!

Bob Steed said...

"Count Your Many Blessings"....I love the hymn and the principle of gratitude. I am thankful for you and Cindy.

Mindy said...

Hi Elder and Sister Simmons,
This is Sister Gneitings mom again. I noticed that you left a message for her on the blog that I am doing for her and I just wanted you to know that she isn't doing the blog because she wasnt sure that she would be allowed to. So I am posting her letters and emails from her to family and friends. Just wanted you to know that she wasn't wasting precious missionary time working on her blog. :)

I have been reading your posts on your blog and I have really enjoyed them. It has helped me feel closer to my daughter and what she is experiencing through our words and pictures. I look forward to your future posts. Thank you for all you do for the missionaries. It is so nice to know that my daughter has you and Sister Simmons to look out for her and the other missionaries. What a great work you are all doing. We pray for you all everyday. Keep up the good work - and tell Sister Gneiting hello from us. :)
Carol Gneiting