Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This was a week that the sisters had meals with the members of our stake. But we had some good visits. The week started with a young man who has not attended church for several years. There have been some big problems in his life while he was living in another state, he decided to return home and see if he could get things back on track. Some great home teachers invited him into their home and we had a good visit with him on Monday afternoon. It was interesting to find that the husband in the home had similar addictions many years ago so he knew what this young man was going through. I believe the visit left our younger man with some hope that if he were to stay on course, he could have a good deal of help from the Atonement of our Savior.
Ruth worked with a mother and daughter on Family History on Tuesday morning, then we had a Temple Preparation discussion with our young neighbor couple who are planning on going to the temple July 5th. We are really excited to help them on that pathway.
Wednesday's are District Meetings, the transfers brought to us a new district leader, Elder Vance. We were impressed with his sincerity and his desire to help each of the companionship's reach their potential. We did some preparation for our next Temple discussion and then with Stake Conference coming, Wednesday was designated as a Stake Temple Day in preparation for conference. We felt that the Temple Preparation lessons helped us see a little more clearly the purpose of the endowment session we attended.
Thursday we had a Senior Training meeting. Ruth and I had met with our leaders previously and were asked to give the couples some examples of the messages we leave in the homes where we were invited to have a meal with the families. It was a good meeting. We were happy to learn that in addition to transporting our sister missionaries to the Ogden Temple open house in August and September, we may also be asked to help with some of the open house activities. That would be a very special experience. They expect in five weeks that the open house may attract as many as 500,000 people.
Friday we had an appointment, it was the first one that no one was home at the appointed time, that's disappointing but part of the experience.
Saturday the sisters had a baptism which we attended. The sisters do such a nice job in making sure everything is organized and those who attend feel the spirit of the Lord.
Saturday evening was the first Stake Conference meeting. We were asked to stand and be recognized as full-time missionaries. One of our sisters and a recent convert from our ward were speakers during the session.
At our Sunday session of conference, the Stake President asked us to sit on the stand behind them. Again we were recognized. The stake has conference in two buildings so the meeting is broadcast in close circuit to the other building. Sunday night we were teased a little because as the camera focused on the speaker, we were right in the picture. We were invited to dinner and then were accompanied by a member of the 14th Ward bishopric for a visit. One visit was to a home where we had visited before. However, it seemed that with a member of the bishopric on this visit with us, there was a much more receptive attitude. The visit went well, we had a discussion with one son that just turned eight about baptism. Initially he didn't want to talk about baptism but Sis. Castleton showed him some pictures and got his participation in a plan of salvation discussion. The family was much more willing to talk about spiritual things and at the end, we asked if we could leave with a word of prayer and the non-member father asked if he could give that prayer. Wow, what a wonderful experience! We also visited another family and found out the father was not at home but in California where his mother had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer. We had a nice discussion on family history with the son and mother who were at home.
The Gospel is true! It will bring peace and comfort to all who accept the Savior's invitation, "Come unto me."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This has been a very good week. We really enjoyed some wonderful meals and great teaching opportunities with the families. We had some great visits as well with a good deal of variety. One sister was struggling and as we visited she perked up a little when we talked about family history. Her computer was not working properly so Ruth went back the next day with our laptop and helped her find some great information on her son who was killed several years ago while serving a mission. She didn't realize what a Google search could do and there was a goodly amount of information on her son that was really valuable to her.
This past week was transfer week, we lost one sister and gained a new one from the M T C. Our other sister has been made a trainer so the new sister will be trained very well.
We are getting to know so many people in our stake that we would never have known otherwise. What a great group of people to get to know in the service of the Lord.
Father's Day was great! We went to our own ward for Sacrament Meeting where a young man talked who is going to Argentina on a mission tomorrow. His brother is already serving. Then we had been asked to speak in another ward and as we arrived, we found another missionary speaking with us who is going to the M T C next week. He has been best friends with the young man leaving from our ward.
Ruth talked about the importance of writing journals as part of Family History. I talked about the coordination of the missionary effort in the Church and how missionaries and members need to work together. Pres. Monson's message in the June Ensign has a wonderful outline of how this effort should work.
In addition, I love Elder L. Tom Perry's comments about "Hastening The Work of Salvation" when he told the new mission presidents in a seminar in June of 2013, "This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build that foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven's kingdom."
Pres. Monson declared, "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work."
We are so excited to be part of this great time of teaching. Our assignments are varied and quite interesting because of the variety. What a wonderful privilege it is to have a hand in His work!
Following our meetings Keith and his family drove up and had dinner with us as well as Kaylene and her husband and daughters and her son-in-law. It was a great day and nice enough that we could eat outside.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June 10, 2014

The time is going fast. Every week gets a little busier. We are having great cooperation from our ward mission leaders and getting to know a lot of people that we wouldn't meet otherwise. This week we even met with an investigator because the sister missionaries had another appointment. We were accompanied by the ward mission leader and had a great visit with the family. We are very hopeful that he will be baptized in the near future.
Another wonderful experience was going to the temple for baptisms with a sister that was just baptized the end of April. We went to her home a couple of times, got her registered on Family Search and then went back and entered her mother, father and brothers names so we could print our the FOR for those three.
She asked Elder Castleton to baptize her for her mother, and then Elder Castleton was baptized for her father and brother. There were several people at the temple to celebrate with her which made it a very special day. Something different was that they allowed those in her party to come into the baptismal font area for the baptisms. Following the baptisms, Elder Castleton confirmed the sister for her mother near the font and then a temple worker confirmed him for the father and brother.
We had some wonderful visits to mostly less-active members with our Relief Society President on Wednesday.  We have also had some great experiences making visits to others in our area.  We have been very well received and have enjoyed getting to know the people in our Stake.   It just keeps getting better every week. We are so grateful to the Lord for this wonderful blessing. We are just praying that the people we visit feel the spirit and want to embrace the Gospel and be active participants.
Elder and Sister Castleton

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1, 20014
Wow, we have been busy and we didn't get around to recording anything last week. Here is an update on what has been happening.
We have so enjoyed being invited into homes and meetings to introduce ourselves and our purpose as missionaries. This past week we were assigned to take the missionary dinner appointments in our own ward. What a wonderful opportunity to share a meal and then share a message with the family. We try to fashion a message to fit the family and it has been received with great enthusiasm, especially by the children.
 We participated in a visit this week with a member of the Primary presidency and her husband who knew the family. This is a good family and we hope our visit will encourage them to attend meetings in our ward more often. We also visited with another family in the company of our Elder's Quorum President. We went with the intent of teaching them some about Family History and came away with a different idea on how a busy mother does family history. She is trying to keep a pictorial family history by taking pictures of events and outings in which her family participates. She then stores the photos and then compiles them into a book using Shutterfly when she gets some good coupons to use. This is a great way to remember the family events and to store them in a way that the event will be remembered. The captions on the pages tells about the event and the comments made during the event.
As usual, meetings are a big part of each week. With each meeting comes preparations so the meeting can have some meaning to the work. Last Sunday we met in two Ward Councils and had great reception in both. We attended Sacrament meetings to continue to get acquainted with the members and talk to them about our work. We always enjoy attending baptisms. The sisters had a baptism just yesterday.
This morning we had a training meeting with ward mission leaders. We presented the Ward Mission Process which describes the way members, missionaries, and senior couples fit into that process.The basic process begins within the Ward Councils. This is a process which was advocated by Pres. Monson when he said in  a worldwide leadership training broadcast in June 2013, "Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him."
 We had an appointment to take a new member to the temple with some family names but that had to be postponed because of illness. We'll write about that experience next week.