Monday, February 23, 2015

Well, we made up a little for eating at Wendy's for Valentine's Day. On Monday night we went to the Ellen Eccles Theater and saw Jay Richards production of "Little Women." It is a great story and a great production.
We are in the midst of ward conferences and the Stake President wants us to be there. It is great to be able to be in these wards and to know many of the members because we have been in their homes. Sunday was the Fifth Ward Conference. The sacrament meeting format is that the bishop talks, a member of the ward council is asked to bear their testimony, and then Pres. Davis speaks. They are good meetings and enjoyable to be there. We usually attend one or two other sacrament meetings and this Sunday we also had a meeting with some of the bishopric of the Third ward concerning a member of their ward who needs their attention. We also attended the Spanish missionary correlation meeting. Since our Spanish missionaries cover three stakes in our area, it is good to know what they are doing and try to help them with their work.
Monday mornings we hold our correlation meeting with our sisters. Following that meeting we took two of our sister leaders to Ogden for meetings. When we returned we had dinner with Bishop Berry's family in the Thirteenth Ward. What a great family! Nearly a year ago they lost a daughter to cancer. Fortunately she was able to go to the temple for her endowments. They are a faithful family, and they shared some sacred experiences with us about her and some things that have happened since her death.
We talked about family history and it was well accepted. We have a return appointment this week to see if we can help them find some family names to take to the temple. One daughter is sixteen and she thought it would be fun for her to organize a date night for several couples to go together to a family history center and do indexing, then go have more fun together. We appreciate our youth!
   Our Prep days are usually busy but in the afternoon we made a visit on the way to our dinner appointment. We have a cute video we are using called "Woven Generations" that we show then discuss how that is done through research and temple work. After dinner we visited a couple, the husband has just been called as the Stake Indexing Director. That was a great visit, then we attended the Fourth Ward family history fair where they had good attendance. It was well organized and we were impressed that they had youth teaching in some of the classes. We followed with a meeting with our Stake President who was gracious with his compliments and we discussed some things we want to do going forward.
  Wednesday would normally have  been transfer day but because of conflicts it was put off for a day. We had a fun meal with the Thirteenth ward mission leader and his family. The children were so excited with the "My Family" booklets and the coloring pages we copied from a book we picked up at the Roots Tech Conference. The sisters asked us to visit a less active family that are returning to activity and have a boy turning eight soon. The father is preparing to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood so he can baptize and confirm his son. We gave the family a short Gospel lesson and presented the boy with a child's Book of Mormon. It was a good visit.
  On of our sisters, Sis. Mathison was transferred to Benson but she was replaced by Sis. Geetz who was involved with TeTe getting baptized, so we are happy that she will be in our stake for the last transfer before she completes her mission.
  We had some great visits and then visited a member of our ward to see if we could arrange a visit with a non-member neighbor. We also presented their children with the short video and coloring pages. Our area Seventy Elder Laing presented some training to the Stake Presidents, High Council members over missionary work and most of the senior couples. He talked about the workings of the ward councils in Hastening the Work of Salvation. It was a very good meeting.
  On Friday we had an interesting day of service. We went with Hallie and a bus load of students from her school to Salt Lake to visit the Clark Planetarium. We were the chaperons along with two people from the school. It was a good day except coming home some of the kids got a little rowdy and caused some problems on the bus. The Planetarium is very interesting,  The I Max presentations make things so real. The content of the presentations show a wonderful display of the universe and shows how well things are organized. One interesting thing was how stars have a life span and then they explode. Those explosions return matter to the universe and in time more stars and bodies are made from the material created by those novas or explosions.
After we returned home we had a neat visit with a young family with four children. The children were very excited to learn about family history and the parents were excited and curious enough that they asked us to come back next week for another session. The father in the family is the only member of the Church so he has a lot of people he is curious about. It will be fun to see what we can find for them.
 Saturday we went to the Mount Logan Stake for a Family History Discovery Day. We didn't know the schedule so when we arrived there were some classes in progress but we were able to get an outline of their day and we will probably use some of their ideas as we are looking at hosting a similar event in our stake in the near future. We were invited to dinner at the Ringer home and they also had four children that were interested in our presentation and the booklets and coloring pages we left for them.
  Yesterday was a great Sunday. We attended the ward council in the 10th ward where the stake presidency gave the training. It was a great meeting and even though it was mostly training there was some good discussion on different families in the ward that need some attention. Pres. Netzley lives in that ward and said that wherever he went on visits, the Castleton's had already been there. Their bishop gave a wonderful, heart warming talk in Sacrament meeting and the Stake President is always right on with his comments.
  We then went to Richmond to hear Jonathan Dayton give his returning missionary address and then enjoyed time with the family with a meal at the Civic Center in Richmond. We came home and visited a family for home teaching, attended our missionary correlation meeting then our home teacher came and visited. It was a great Sunday!


Monday, February 16, 2015

 These weeks just go by so rapidly. We had some referrals given to us by ward mission leaders, but there were some challenges finding the addresses. So we now have more information and as a result, more people to contact this week.
We have a correlation meeting with our sisters on Monday mornings. On Monday afternoon Sis. Castleton had a sister come to the house to do some additional family history research. Then we had dinner with our new ward mission leaders family from our own ward. Their children are growing up and the family is expecting a new addition any day. After our meal and our presentation to the family the oldest daughter in the family gave Sister Castleton a rose. She just turned twelve and the Young Women gave her a rose to celebrate. What a sweet thought, such a sweet girl.
  Tuesday was a little more restful prep day. We really need some time to really relax so we have the stamina to get through each week. We had a nice visit with a Primary Pres.and her family in the evening and talked about being good missionaries.
  Wednesday was our last district meeting for this transfer, for some reason, transfer day is next Thursday. We know now that we are losing one Zone leader and it looks to us like we will lose our District leader as well. It feels like one of our sisters is vulnerable for transfer. Every transfer brings changes, but we just accept them and move ahead.
  Ruth had a couple more family history sessions with members coming to our home to research and scan some documents. We then had a nice meal Thursday night with a family in our own ward. Their oldest son went on a mission but returned early. This happens from time to time because these younger missionaries just do not adjust automatically to the rigors of missionary life. It must be a problem because I have seen some articles that talk about how to be accepting and understanding of those who return early. We have a young man who came home from his mission because of a health problem. It was exciting yesterday to visit with him and find out he has clearance to return to his mission today. Hopefully he will be able to serve without more health issues
We had previously visited a member in the nursing home. We stopped at their home and the brother was home but doesn't seem to be doing really well. He has some heart problems and breathing problems. He knew my uncle Wayne and aunt Jo in Modesto, California. On our way home we stopped to see another sister who is fairly new to the area and had a great visit.
  Friday was kind of a service day. Ruth took Kaylene to the Logan Family Search library and got her started on some projects for our families. George took a fellow we still have contact with that moved to Logan and needed some help during the same time. Realizing the end of the month is close, we made an appointment with one of our families and went home teaching in the afternoon. We had a wonderful discussion about faith and conversion.
The Fourth Ward has a tradition of having an adult retreat with a meal then the couples go to the temple the next morning. They invited us to the dinner and asked us to talk about marriage and love. I talked about some of the principles while Ruth talked about some of the experiences we have had as a couple raising our family. It was a very nice evening.
  We arose early Saturday morning and went to Salt Lake for the Roots Tech Conference. In our last senior couples meeting they talked about family history as an activation tool and told us our area Seventy will be presenting information to the stake presidents about family history. Our stake president has already indicated an interest in doing more so we wanted to be more prepared. Our area Seventy training meeting is Thursday night this coming week. We arrived early and heard Donny Osmond talk about his family and some of the interesting traits he inherited from his family members.. He has been in show business for 51 yeas. Pretty amazing for our time, Al Fox Carraway is a blogger whose presentation was very eye-opening as to how people need to feel accepted as they come into the Gospel. Noel Picus Pace was a delightful presenter as she talked about dedication to the goal of winning a medal at the Olympics and how important her family was in that process.
Elder Neil L Andersen then closed that session with a talk about the Temple Challenge and the blessings available to those who work on that challenge.

The leadership training was by Elder Allan Packer, Elder Whitney Clayton, and Elder Kent Richards. The focus was on the Family History Spiritual Passport. The focus is find a name, take the name to the temple, go as a family when possible; then teach someone else about how to find family names so they can enjoy the blessings available. This is in addition to Elder Anderson's youth challenge last year to find as many names as you do baptisms for in the temple.
Elder Quintin L Cook was the closing speaker and talked about the Father's Plan is about Families. He had his children and grandchildren help him with the presentation. It was very good.
The treat at the end of the conference as the cast of Studio C performed for a while and talked about the show and answered some tweeted questions about the cast and the show. The closing presentation was David Archuleta who sang a few numbers. What a wonderful example and a great voice for a young man.It was a long day but a good day. We celebrated Valentine's Day with a meal at Wendy's on the way home. Not the most romantic but a great day.

Monday, February 9, 2015

 We had another busy and exciting week. It seems there is more interest in family history work, and that is just fine with us. The spirit of Elijah is just as valuable as any other spirit. It brings about family unity and eternal blessings. Based on what we are learning in our coordinating council, family history is going to continue to be a focus of the work of salvation.
 Last Sunday Elder Castleton met a brother in high priest quorum meeting that he was impressed to visit. So we dropped in to his home to find that he is divorced, he and his wife have patched up some of their differences so they are communicating and doing some things as a family. He is rather lonely in a large home but he has many books of family history, old legal sized binders, and he is paying a genealogist from Smithfield to do research for him on family in Germany. He really seemed to enjoy our visit. With family search he may be able to find some of the information he is paying for online, but he is satisfied that he is making progress.
We had a fun meal with a young family of four. The parents are divorced but the children are all very talented and enthusiastic. The oldest son is attending a student ward and preparing to go on a mission as soon as he is able.
 Our dinner on Tues. night was with a young couple. He is from the area and she is from Arkansas. They are both working and going to college. They are having fun teaching nursery in Primary.
 We went with the sisters to visit a family that is just coming back to activity and has a daughter that wants to be baptized.
Wednesday is most always District Meeting. We are really impressed with the young district leaders who teach us the tools we need to be effective in our work. As a general rule, the seniors are a little less than enthusiastic about role playing but we try our best to fill roles.
Our seniors had set that day for going to lunch at the temple and then going to a session. It was exciting to go to the prayer circle with six other couples, all of our senior couples joined in which made it a special experience.
Our meal that night was with a family of skiers. The men folk, dad and four boys had been skiing while mom stayed home and fixed dinner. They were a high energy family that had a good spirit in their home. The oldest is 16 so not far away from missionary age.
We had an appointment that night with a family in our neighboring ward with three children. As we arrived at the appointed time, the family was gathered in the living room reading their scriptures. What an enjoyable evening for us as we discussed the Gospel with them.
 Thursday we had a Senior Couple training meeting in Ogden. We always have a delicious, assigned pot luck luncheon, then instruction, followed by our coordinating council meeting. It is impressive to be in a meeting with so many dedicated senior couples. We have just over 100 senior couples in our mission. Our training was on how the brethren have added and revised the function of ward councils as it pertains to missionary work. The area Seventy now  have instructions which they will be sharing with stake presidents in a training meeting soon. We just found out that senior couples are invited to training on Feb. 19, so we will have some additional opportunities for support in our work as missionaries in ward councils.
 We are so fortunate, our stake presidency and our bishops are really very supportive. We just need to help them keep missionary work as the focus of their ward council members and our training is to help them have the courage to act on promptings and invite non members and less active members to join us in hastening the work of the Lord.
We had an interesting meal on Friday night. We called to verify our dinner appointment and the sister told us we would be meeting them and eating out. We agreed to meet them at Chuck O Rama and they told us they have many cats and dogs that they care for and they didn't feel like we should be exposed to that environment. They come from very different backgrounds, both had been married previously and divorced. Their courtship was very interesting to say the least.She joined the church but then has been less active more than once. He was not a member but as they began their marriage, she decided to get active and invited him to join with her. It took some time and many different missionaries to find the right combination. He said he went through several sets of missionaries for about 18 months and finally was baptized. They have very different backgrounds and many really different experiences in their journey. They finally put things all together and went to the temple after being married about eighteen years. He is now the Gospel Doctrine teacher in Sunday School, Truly a story of adversity overcome by a desire to find happiness in living the way the Lord has directed.
 Saturday morning we were asked to take one of our young sisters to Ogden so she could fly home to have surgery and recover there. She is a sweet sister and we pray things will go well for her and she will be able to return to our mission soon.
 Shortly after we returned from Ogden, we went to a wonderful baptism. We had gone with our sisters to talk to the Maughan family about family history last week. The husband has been less active for some time but recently the wife had a feeling that she wanted to know more about the Gospel and began reading the Book of Mormon. She was really converted and then invited the missionaries to come and teach her the lessons. In her testimony following her baptism, performed by her husband, she said she was not without the Lord in her life, she was acquainted with Jesus and knew about the His teachings. Her mother is a preacher in another church but she came to the baptism and sang for her daughter. The spirit was as beautiful and powerful as any meeting we have ever attended. Her brother-in-law is a returned missionary and gave a wonderful talk about baptism. The spirit was so evident in her confirmation yesterday and the bishop asked her to bear her testimony and then asked her husband to do the same. The ward is very supportive and we are anxious to watch the family progress toward the temple.
As I was studying this week I read a quote by Neal A Maxwell who said in a Satellite training meeting,"When the Lord directs us to "bring many souls unto me," this means bringing them all the way into the garner of the Church-not simply dropping them off just outside the door...Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the Holy Temple. The great garner into which the "sheaves" should be finally gathered is the Holy Temple!"
 Sundays are usually busy, but this one was especially busy. We started the day at 6:00 am with a stake council meeting where we had four returning elders report their missions and bear their testimonies. Then we attended two ward council meetings, then on to the confirmation of the sister who was baptized on Saturday. The next meeting was a ward conference, then our stake missionary correlation meeting. Then dinner with another neat family. To say the least, it was a long day but what a wonderful day it was! We are very grateful for this opportunity to serve.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

This has been a good week. We had stake conference on Saturday and Sunday. It was a very different conference. Elder Olson of the Seventy was our General Authority. In both the Saturday evening session and the general session on Sunday Elder Olson would talk or ask a member of the stake presidency to speak on a particular subject. Several people were called from the audience to speak in both meetings. They would share their insights on an assigned topic or experience in their lives. Our stake president sent out an e mail earlier in the week giving us some suggestions of things we should read and asked those who received the e mail to be prepared to speak without notes if called. Sister Castleton was called on Sunday to share her testimony about our work. Her observation other than being shocked was that she appreciated the opportunity because it gave her an insight into how strong her testimony really is.
 Elder Olson spoke several times about being led or prompted by the Spirit. Our Stake Priesthood leadership meeting Sunday morning was led by the spirit as was the Saturday night meeting.The Sunday session was held in three buildings to try to make sure everyone was comfortably seated and a great effort was put forth to get people to attend. At the beginning of the morning session the Primary children were asked to sing "I Am A Child of God." in each building. The stake Primary president was in one of other buildings. When Pres. Davis announced the song the children would sing he said that following the singing our stake Primary president should make her way to the stake center while he was speaking because she would be the speaker following his remarks. That is the way that the meetings proceeded. There was a wonderful spirit and some sweaty palms along the way.
Following the conference we had a nice visit with one of our home teaching families. We tried to visit another family who were not home but as we started toward home, one of our home teaching sisters who is hard to contact was sitting outside of her work taking a break. We were able to stop and visit with her and leave a message.
The week brought a variety of visits and lessons. We love sharing messages with the families who invite us to dinner. We feel good about sharing messages of appreciation and love with these families. We have to be a little flexible because each family has different make ups and we have to adjust our message accordingly.
Our former Stake President Clawson passed away this week. He called Elder Castleton to be bishop in the 12th ward and then we served with him as he served as a counselor to Pres. Featherstone at the Logan Temple presidency. He was a good man and we will miss him.
We had one great opportunity during the week to teach family history to an investigator who is scheduled to be baptized next week. Earlier that day we had a meeting with a family to help them learn more about New Family Search. Then the next evening we participated with a ward family history evening where the high priest group invited the ward to bring their computers and meet together and do some family history work and ask questions. Family history has become an important part of our work and we enjoy seeing people get excited about finding family names so they can do the ordinance work for them.