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As part of this year's emphasis on personal and family home study of the Savior's life, this week's lesson stems from Matthew 13 as outlined in the Come, Follow Me manual published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While reading this morning about the Parable of the Sower, I was taken back by the insights that came into my mind relating to this parable and the powerful demographic within The Church referred to as "Midsingles." While we midsingles may joke among ourselves that we are the "misfits", "cast off toys" or even "Rejects", all of which are 100% untrue, what IS true is that while single, Latter-day Midsingles carry tremendous potential for good. The amount of service provided by this group around the world is astounding, as are the depths of the lessons and testimonies shared on Sundays and in private conversation as midsingles seek to "(go) about doing good" as disciples of Jesus Christ. They are faithful friends, devoted mothers and fathers, hard workers, and at the end of the day, dedicated members of the Lord's restored church, even if plenty of midsingles battle weaknesses, fears, insecurities and yes, gasp, even sin.
That is why when I was reading in Matthew 13 today and the thoughts started pouring in about how it relates to dating in today's crazy world, I wanted to jot down the things I learned. While I always recommend grabbing your scriptures to mark down anything that stands out as you read on, more important is to mark down the thoughts that come to you from the Spirit in the process.
I'm hoping the graph below will help me share the impressions that I felt and will be easy to follow along:
74 years ago a chilly December rain fell in the mountains of Leyte, an island in the South Pacific that most of us would be hard-pressed to find on a map, but for the paratroopers of America's 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Leyte had become a place of hellish reality.
The year was 1944 and the world was full of a war that threatened the "peace on earth, goodwill towards men" of all mankind. The most basic freedoms of every man, woman and child, even the right to life, was on the line and the 511th had been formed to fight against the forces of oppression and darkness.
Most of the paratroopers were young, between 18-21. One "man" in my grandfather's D Company, was seventeen-year-old Pfc. Billy Pettit who lied about his age in order to enlist and serve his country. Nicknamed "Billy the Kid" by his comrades, Billy's face and eyes now held the same grim look of his brothers in arms who had shared in the horrors of fighting the Japanese in close quarters day after day for weeks on end.
Sitting on a hill overlooking Ormoc Bay on Leyte's west coast, D Company's CO Captain Stephen E. Cavanaugh (pictured right) surveyed his men, primarily those in 1st Platoon under 1st Lieutenant Andrew Carrico III.
The 32 men of 1st Platoon were tired. They had started hiking from Dulag into Leyte's interior on November 23 and fought their way straight up the mountains' 4,400-feet heights and then down the other side towards Ormoc Bay. Along the way they endured torrential rains every day, constant Bonzai attacks from the enemy at night and vicious battles in the jungles nearly every step of the way. Nicknamed "The Angels", the 511th's paratroopers were being asked to do what other regular Army units had attempted to do: eliminate the Japanese supply line that ran through the mountain ridges.
They were now on Day 38 of their successful-yet-costly mountain and jungle campaign. Many men in D Company were now suffering from malaria or dengue fever (or both) and the fevers and digestive problems only added their misery. Their once trim and fit bodies were covered in jungle ulcers and most had lost over twenty pounds or more due to their inability to resupply in the mountains. Just over two weeks earlier, after having nothing to eat for seven days, D Company had eaten a dog with a few camotes they had managed to dig up in a nearby field.
Nearby, Lieutenant Carrico (pictured right) was tending to 1st Platoon. The day before, Carrico, with Cavanaugh traveling behind, had led 1st Platoon in a final assault on a hill near where they now sat in a mango grove. Lieutenant Carrico's 31 men had charged up the hill and eliminated more than 300 of the enemy who had been stubbornly holding the entire 11th Airborne back from reaching Ormoc Bay. The Americans were sick, angry at losing so many friends to the enemy, and more than ready to end their time on this God-forsaken island.
As D Company's Pfc. William L. Dubes noted, "It was a nightmare."