Sunday, July 27, 2014

We have had a good week. The weeks where we are assigned to have meals with ward members always supplies us with a lot of good experiences. This week certainly fit that pattern. We met with three young people who have been called by their ward as family history consultants. These young people really understand the computer so they don't need a lot of instruction on how to apply their knowledge of the computer to family history. As Elder Bednar suggested, don't over program these young people, give them some basics and they will figure it out from there. One young man wasn't sure he needed any instructions, he taught us a few things about computers and Ruth figured she had three things he didn't know about family history. The future of the Church is in good hands.
We took some time during the week to do some home and visiting teaching and of course with the 24th of July celebration it was a little challenging to catch very many people home for visits. We have a couple of men we have been meeting with regularly to try to light a fire under them. One is responding quite well the other has some challenges. The one asked us to take him to Smithfield and to visit his mother whom he  hadn't seen in some time. She has a lot of family history written in the old journal type books but she has some people from the ward who are helping her get some names entered into the computer. Her son is quite interested in the family's history and is finding some things on Family Search that is exciting to him. Most of our lessons following meals this week were followed with some discussion and demonstration of family history. In one case the father is a member and the wife is not. She seemed a little intimidated by our presence but once we started talking about family history her demeanor changed and she was supplying information to her husband about his family. We set up an additional appointment later in the week at the Family History Center at the Stake Center and she was there and seemed to enjoy the evening. The sister missionaries stopped in for a while and she seemed more comfortable with them as well. Hopefully, that is a good sign as we move forward.
We had a fun appointment for dinner last night. The Elder's Quorum president invited us to dinner. They have three boys and her sister called and she, her husband and three more children stopped in to eat dinner as well. We gave the children the missionary lesson we have prepared. We gave them cards on missionary work as well as pictures of the Ogden Temple and talked to them about the upcoming open house. They really seemed to enjoy the time there.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Things got a little crazy and we missed our posting last week so we'll make it up today.
We have been having some great meetings with members, less active members, and a few non-members.
We have a non member that we have been trying to get started teaching but things have not worked out yet. She wants to have the lessons, so we'll just be persistent and it will happen. We had a wonderful Zone Conference with the Mission President on Wednesday. There was a letter distributed which the brethren have tweaked a few things in relation to missionary activity. The full time missionaries are now expected to teach lesson 5 following baptism and actually are encouraged to maintain contact through social media and visits for a long term. This is actually a change being added to P M G, which doesn't happen very often. The Church is a dynamic organization not a static entity so these things will happen occasionally. We have met with several families and taught them about family history. People are more and more interested in finding more about their families and when they get into Family Search and see some of the photos and family stories that others have already entered there, it is fun to watch their reactions. We really appreciate our stake members who are so kind to us in supplying meals and then sharing a gospel message with their families. We always encourage missionary mindedness and possibilities their family has to share the message and invite others to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Last week we met a brother who served in the Montana Billings Mission about ten years after Elder Castleton served there. We knew a few people he also met and when he pulled out his journal, we found out while he served in Great Falls, he gave a blessing to Sis. Castleton's father who was sick at the time.
July 12 was a fun day, in addition to celebrating Jessie Castleton's 15th birthday at Chuck and Kathy's home in Alpine, we had a John N. Castleton family reunion. We had a wonderful attendance, around 100 people. Eldred, Lavon's husband reminded us that he and Lavon started all this family expansion 52 years ago. We are happy that so many responded to the invitation to attend. We shared a lot of family memories and stories that some of the younger ones probably hadn't heard before. It was a wonderful day, we need to do it from time to time.
Sundays are always busy and we usually attend several ward council meetings and then squeeze in a sacrament meeting or two and from time to time we can fit in a Sunday School lesson, usually in Gospel Principles, and a few Sundays we have been able to attend Priesthood and Relief Society as well. We almost feel foreign to our own ward anymore.
This past week we squeezed in a couple of home teaching appointments and then because I was fast on the computer a few weeks ago we were able to get tickets to the Tabernacle Choir Pioneer Day Concert at the Conference Center on Friday night. Santino Fontana was the guest artist.(He was the voice of Prince Hans in the movie" Frozen"). It was a fun concert with a lot of familiar and lighter presentations. It was a late night but well worth it.
Yesterday we were able to attend our ward for a missionary talk by a young lady whose family moved from our ward about a year and a half ago. It is wonderful to see these young people responding to the call of the prophet. We were told at the Zone Conference that the response of the young elders and sisters has caused a tremendous shortage of senior couples that are needed in the mission fields all over the world. If any are reading this that are in a position to accept a calling of that sort, please talk to your Bishop, your are needed!
We are so grateful for the dedication of our Stake Presidency and his counselors. They are very supportive, they all attended our correlation meeting yesterday morning. They are anxious to lift the membership in the stake to meet the task of Hastening the Work and bringing people closer to Christ, no matter where they are at this time. If non members, teach them the Gospel, if members; they need to be active and making progress. They are haunted by the lack of attendance at sacrament meetings and the temple. They want so much for those people to accept invitations to become more involved in the Gospel.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Monday there was a sister leader training in Ogden so we drove down and picked up the sisters from their meeting. We had a nice meeting with a less active on Wednesday afternoon. We went with the sisters and again, the effectiveness of having a member present was obvious. After discussing the Ten Commandments, the sisters asked us to explain family history. He was quite interested so we set up an appointment for this week to take him to our stake library and see what we can find for him. The sisters invited us to go with them the following day to another family that had asked about family history. They were really excited when we explained what the possibilities were for them. They thanked the sisters for bringing us with them. We will be meeting with them this coming week at the family history center. Thursday night we went to Keith's in Eagle Mountain so that we could see three of his girls march with West Lake color guard in the Provo Parade. It was great to see them but it was hotter than hot there. One of the most exciting things was the number of missionaries from the Provo Mission walking the parade route all together lead by their mission president and his wife. Elders, Sisters, and Senior Couples were all included. They received a lot of high fives and applause as they made their way along the route. It was great!
After lunch we came home so we could go to the temple early Saturday morning with a couple we had taught Temple Preparation classes. It was wonderful to be there with them and so joyous to see them sealed and then have their new son sealed to them. That's always a spiritual experience.
Saturday evening Ruth became quite ill so she stayed in bed. I went to the correlation meeting which was attended by our Area Seventy and our Stake President. Following correlation, we were invited to a meeting in the Stake President's office to discuss how we could improve sacrament meeting attendance, home teaching, and double the number of baptisms as well as reactivating members who are not currently attending. It is so wonderful to have a Stake Presidency that totally supports our efforts and are willing to do whatever they can to "Hasten the Work of Salvation." I went to a couple of sacrament meetings but I really felt alone as Ruth stayed home. By Monday she began to feel much better for which I was very grateful.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

 The past week was great. We were assigned to have meals with the members in one of the wards this week. They came through very nicely and we had some great meals along with good messages with the families we dined with.
We learned one very important thing, that is that our visits with less-active members is enhanced when a member accompanies us. We really understand why it is stressed that the missionaries to have members present with them as non-members are receiving discussions.
   We have been giving Temple Preparation classes to a young couple from our ward. They have a new baby about a month old. The lessons have gone quite well. They are planning to go to the temple on Saturday.

   We visited on Tuesday with a member who has started coming back to activity. The member with us was so helpful and as we talked the less active member talked about his family. He has a twelve year old son who doesn't know much about the family. We discussed how good it would be if he could talk with his father and record some of his stories on an electronic devise so they could be saved for future reference. He said he didn't know how to do that so we told him we had a list of questions that would help. We delivered that list and hope it will be helpful.
We took time to visit a home teaching family during the week. We feel like we need some association with ward members so we are trying to make visits to our families as we can as part of our schedule. Ruth is also making Visiting Teaching visits during the month.
  After a nice meal with a member family we had a good discussion with their two children. The son is a member of the Deacon's quorum presidency, we talked about visiting some of the less active quorum members. The daughter has some friends as well that she is trying to take to activities. Following that visit we met a member of the Bishopric and visited the brother and family of the family we had our meal with. They have a daughter who is unbaptized and the family told us about some of the conflict within the family. Bottom line is that we think the daughter who has already turned eight will be willing to have some discussions and be baptized. Hopefully this will lead to more activity with the family.
We did have one cancellation which is a concern for us. The father in the family has had most of the lessons and needs to have some other matters resolved before being baptized. He has left the home and we are not sure how this will end.
   We had a wonderful experience in a sacrament meeting. We were introduced to a couple by two ward members. The man told us he had been baptized about a year ago and the lady, who turns out to be a live-in friend wanted to have the missionaries and be baptized. We set up an appointment for this week and invited them to the Missionary Musical Fireside that night at the Logan Tabernacle. They had a meeting and were not able to get to the fireside. Then on Monday she called and said that she was told she could not be baptized until they were married. Since the marriage wasn't going to happen until later, they cancelled our appointment. We will go pay a visit and at least be friends and encourage them to do what they need to do to be baptized.
   The fireside was wonderful.The missionaries in this area are very musically talented and did a great job with the music and their testimonies. There was a nice crowd, it was good to see.
   We have a meeting with our Stake Presidency this coming Sunday. It looks like some big challenges are coming so we will find out what we are expected to do going forward.