Monday, April 27, 2015

Sunday the 26th was one of the most full days we have had on our mission, in fact this week was really full of good things. Sunday began in fasting and prayer with a 6:00 am stake council meeting to discuss how we can be most effective in "Hastening the Work of Salvation" in our stake. We talked about the City of Enoch and how the people were able to become of "one mind and one heart." We also spent a lot of time talking about Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on "Being Genuine." He talked about the tour of Catherine the Great of Russia in the 18th century who announced she would tour the southern part of her empire in company of several foreign ambassadors. The governor, Potemkin, of the area wanted to impress the visitors so he build pasteboard facades of busy villages along the route and busy peasants who created the impression of a prosperous economy. Once the visitors rounded a bend in the river, the men would pack up the village facade and rush downstream and set up the village again. This has become known as the "Potemkin village." The council discussed aspects of this story and how we need to create real growth in our stake and realize that there are some aspects of growth that cannot be measured, such as humility, testimony, and coming closer to the Savior. We need to be sensitive to the needs of those who are less active as well as those who are not members. One statement that stood our to me in the talk was,"With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact that's how most bonfires begin-as a simple spark." It was a great meeting and in the end the presidency decided we would hold these council meetings more often, probably monthly instead of quarterly. At the end of the meeting we had three returning missionaries report and bear their testimonies.
That was just the beginning of the day! We then went to a ward council meeting, then to the 13th ward where we stayed for the block of meetings. We returned home for a few minutes then went to a scheduled home teaching visit, then to our correlation meeting with the ward mission leaders, went to dinner, came home so our home teacher could visit us and then on to meet with a family which we taught about family history.
  A while ago, Ruth posted an entry on John Nicholson's Family Search Family Tree page. In response to that we received an e mail from a professor at BYU- Idaho who had studied Grandpa's life and written a couple of papers about him. He wrote to find out if we had any other historical documents in the family. As we contacted him, he sent us some 100 letters grandpa had written as he served in England in 1879. He wrote to his wives and children as well as friends and others he knew. I have been trying to read a few of these letters each day and Saturday morning after reading some letters I was impressed to write some of my thoughts to my siblings.
"I have been trying to take some time to read a few of these letters each day. This morning I was reading as he talked about a movement in the US government about restricting emigration of the saints from abroad. Of course his feeling were strong because he worked a great deal with those Saints who were immigrating from England. His feelings were stated strongly that his family shouldn't worry about his returning because when the Lord released him from his call, he would return home safely. He said some of those feelings were being felt in England and then said,” Satan appears to be angry. Until within the last few days no particular unfriendliness has been manifested toward the Saints, but suddenly there is a revulsion of feeling. The feeling of bitterness is already manifested in Liverpool and some other places, but the elders lift up their voice with much power and assurance and the prospects for the work were never better.”
If Satan was angry then, when the missionaries were few in number, I wonder how you could describe his feelings now with nearly 90,000 of God’s choicest young men and women in his service baptizing nearly 300,000 souls each year?  But the Lord promised long ago that the Standard of Truth has been erected and no unhallowed hand will stop this work, the Lord will declare when His work is finished.

What more assurance could we ask for as we daily try to do His will and bring souls unto Him? In our Zone meeting this week, we were reminded that every missionary should have at least one convert-himself or herself"
Working backward on this week, Saturday our home ward held a pot luck picnic in the park for lunch. The weather had been pretty rainy but we had a nice lunch with good attendance before the lunch as over. We had a visit with a fine family in the 14th ward as we discussed family history opportunities. 
  Friday we took our sisters to Ogden for a practice. They were putting on the mission musical fireside on Sunday evening. Since they planned to practice for about two hours, we took the opportunity to attend an endowment session at the Ogden Temple. After coming home we had dinner with the Pearce family that has recently been sealed in the temple and have a missionary serving in Missouri. Ruth had an appointment for visiting teaching later in the evening.
 Thursday we had one of the busiest days of our mission. We had six lessons including a home teaching visit to the Olson's. Those are memorable days for sure!
 Wednesday we had our district meeting. We discussed the takeaways from zone conference and enjoyed some other training. We had a few visits but it was a less busy day for sure.
 Tues. was a full day with zone conference. This is the last zone conference we will have with Pres and Sis Hier. There were several stake leaders in attendance by invitation as well as two new mission presidents with their wives from our area who will begin their service in July. We were trained in a number of topics important to our work. Pres and Sis Hier always have great topics for the missionaries. They talked about General Conference topics and our call letters and ministerial certificates and how we should use them in our ministry. One blessing is that "the Lord will bless you for the goodness of your life". The taught about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the righteous cycle of missionary work. There was also discussion about the use of electronic devices, and how to follow the voice of the spirit, and the benefits of prayer in missionary work.
  Monday was prep day because of zone conference. We had a nice dinner with a former ward mission leader and his family of four neat and busy children. After dinner we went to Logan and had cake and ice cream with Kaylene and the family to celebrate Kaylene's birthday.
  Sunday we were able to attend our home ward. A young lady from our ward Ashlee, whose family we have home taught for some time had returned from her mission in Georgia Macon mission. We had a meeting with a family preparing to go to the temple soon.
We are hopeful for another productive week this week.

Monday, April 20, 2015

 We have had a good week. Every week is different but interesting. On Monday I had a medicine check up with my doctor. Everything went well, blessings of serving a mission. We were in our ward this week for meals and that is always nice. We were in homes of people we knew well and some that were new to us since we don't get to our own ward very often.
  Wednesday was district meeting as usual. Well, not so usual. We picked up our sisters for the meeting and on the way home they discovered their cell phone was missing. We went back to the building and the sisters scoured the room where we met to no avail. So, they called the zone leaders and asked them to send out a text to all the missionaries and see if someone picked up an extra phone, they are all the same kind of phone. No one responded so the zone leaders went back to the building where we held the meeting. After some searching, they called our phone and told us they had found the phone under the piano in the room where we had met. We went to the church and met the Z L's and rescued the phone. It was cute because as the Z L's drove away in their truck, we noticed they had built a snowman in the truck bed and had it decorated well. Our snow storm was really heavy and wet which is what we need for our mountain supply.
We had dinner with a new family in the ward. It is a divorced woman with two cute girls ages 7 and 4. They really are neat girls and were free with hugs.
  It was a normal week, some good lessons and a few cancellations. On Friday Ruth took some sisters to Ogden for music practice. There was a musical fireside in Logan last Sunday and one scheduled for Ogden on the 28th. These missionaries do such a great job with music with like two or three practices. Friday night we had a different dinner experience. A ward member had given us a gift card for a local pizza place and so we invited a predetermined family with a mother and four children to have dinner with us. We had a good meal and then watched the Mormon Channel production of Elder Bednar's talk about the loads we carry.
  Saturday was a special experience. Ruth had seen a posting on Facebook from a sister in a neighboring ward. She had been offended by some remarks made by someone close to her. Ruth has been reading "The Savior's Final Week", by Bro. Skinner, a professor of ancient scripture at B Y U.
She copied a few pages from the book and we went to visit this sister. Her husband was in the yard spraying weeds but joined us for the visit.We had a great visit, we shared thoughts and tears and then a prayer. As we left the husband followed us to the front yard and said. "Thank you for your visit. My wife has been struggling and I have been praying for help. You came today and brought empathy she needed not just sympathy for what she was experiencing." Thank you so much. That was a humbling but gratifying experience to say the least.
  Obviously, we spent a fair amount of time making sure we were well prepared for our second "Every Member a Missionary" class.
 Sunday we attended our own ward because one of our home teaching families had a daughter who had returned from her mission. We really enjoyed the report of her mission and the opportunity to be in classes with our ward members. We had dinner with a less-active neighborhood family and presented a video lesson to them,  We were happy that they were willing to invite us and have a short discussion with us before we had to leave for our class. We also squeezed in a family history lesson with a family  who are preparing to go to the temple soon.
  We were a little disappointed in the attendance for our class, only about half of the number that we had last week. However, we had a great discussion on how family history, home teaching, and visiting teaching can be used to help bring others to a realization of what the Gospel can do in their lives. Showing love and concern is the key to helping others realize how much the Savior loves them.
This is the church of God, it has been restored to the earth and we should be grateful for the opportunity to share it with everyone.

Monday, April 13, 2015

This week was a little bit challenging. With General Conference, we didn't hold a correlation meeting with our ward mission leaders. So this week we had to scratch for appointments. Finally toward the end of the week we sent out a plea to our ward mission leaders for some help but regrettably we only had one response to our plea, but it provided us with some families to visit. After dinner on Monday with a family we know we had a meeting with a family that wanted some help in family research. They have four children and three foster children in their home.We had a delightful visit and gave them some clues on how to find more ancestors. Our preparation included Ruth going to the temple for baptisms with Sher who went for the second week in a row. She is really working hard on her commitment to stay active in spite of opposition. She is now involved in temple preparation class so she can go to the temple for her own endowment.
  Following another good district meeting, we attended a temple session seeking guidance for our missionary class. The temple was very busy at that time because once a year Logan hosts Church Education teachers from all over the world, the session in front of us was full with these teachers and we had an extended wait at the end of the session, but it was a great time for reflection and inspiration. We had dinner with a family that we have become quite close with. They shared some sacred and spiritual experiences that they don't often share with anyone else. Our second missionary class includes how home and visiting teaching is connected with missionary work. The sister told us how a visiting teacher reached out to her and loved her and helped her return to activity. Her husband followed her on the path to activity through similar experiences. She is going to come to our missionary class next week and share her story.
  Thursday we had some families from one mission leader that we visited. One very good visit was to a family that doesn't attend very often. The wife has MS and husband is a returned missionary. She is training for a 40 mile MS bike a thon later in the year. We had a good visit, showed a video and then asked if we could have prayer before we left. They said yes, and he asked if he could give the prayer. That was a special experience.
  Friday we had a meal with a neat family with four girls and a much younger son who was sleeping. The father was still at work but we had a great meal and then challenged them to find names to take to the temple. We found a couple more families home that don't attend meetings regularly. In one family we caught them just as they were going out to buy some clothes for one son so they could attend a baptism on Saturday.
  Saturday was a fun day. The sisters had asked us to visit a family where the mother is a member and they are teaching the father. They are interested in family history so we tried to sign them into Family Search but their computer wasn't functioning too well. After trying several times, we asked them if we could meet them at the library at the stake center, and so we will meet them there next week. They are from the Marshall Islands so we hope we can find some information for them. We attended their ward on Sunday and found he and the children there.The mother was working.
 Saturday evening was a different experience. We had a dinner appointment and when we called to verify the appointment the sister said her husband wanted to pick us up in his Model A car and take us to the Bluebird restaurant in Logan. Wow, what an experience The car is in original condition and it was a real adventure for sure.The meals are always very good as well.
  Sunday was a good but exhausting day. We started the day with a meeting with the stake presidency and our sisters at 7:00 am. We followed that with three sacrament meetings. After the third sacrament meeting we came home for a little break. In our district meeting this week we had a role play exercise about finding. We played the role of our neighbor and committed to talk to her before our Monday correlation meeting. It is hard to find our neighbor home but she was home so we dropped over with a gift for the new baby that is due in a couple of months. We had noted a large display of crosses in the home so Ruth asked her about them. She said she just likes crosses and she buys them and friends and family also buy them for her. Ruth then asked her, where they went to church and she rather curtly said, "We don't go to church." Well, we tried but we will have more opportunities to talk and make an invitation.
Following our ward missionary correlation meeting we hurried to our dinner appointment with a neat family with three boys and then on to our missionary class. We were thrilled, we had about 20 people in attendance including a member of the stake presidency, his wife and daughter, our high councilor over missionary work, a new ward mission leader, and two returned missionaries. We had a wonderful discussion, the presentation went well, the equipment worked perfectly, we had a recently returned missionary from our ward talk about how members helped him on his mission. Everything just went very well. What a wonderful way to finish a week!

Monday, April 6, 2015

 We had a little different week of missionary activities. On Monday we ended up taking some sisters to a training meeting in Ogden. While we were there we did some shopping for family birthdays that are coming soon. Tuesday was one of the first prep days we have really used to rest even though there was plenty to do around the house and yard. It was a very nice day so in the afternoon we picked up some sandwiches and drove up Blacksmith Fork canyon for dinner and a walk. It was great to be outside and see the beautiful canyon. We saw several deer and wild turkeys on our trip through the area.
On Wednesday we had a new sister arrive in our area. She is Sister Sekoda. She is from Hawaii, her family are Tongan. She has a good attitude about the work and we feel she will be a good companion for Sister Hadden. One of our ward missionaries set up several appointments in her ward for visits with families about Family History. In some cases we also included the new Easter video recently released by the Church. It is a great reminder of the Savior's love and wonderful sacrifice for each of us. We also dropped in to talk with several people because it was hard to find families home since it was Spring break in the local schools. We had a great visit with a sister that lives next to our stake center. She has some health challenges but since she lives next to our stake center parking lot she is able to listen to Sacrament meeting on a device from her living room. That is a wonderful service that is available but unfortunately the signal doesn't travel too far so it has very limited use.
We had dinner with a neat young couple who have been married for about a year and she has a daughter from previous relationship. They are anxious to be able to go to the temple in the near future. After dinner we took Hallie and TeTe for yogurt treats because we are not going to be in town for Hallie's birthday on Friday.
Thursday we were able to meet in a zone study and meet most of the new missionaries that have transferred into our zone.Then we had a wonderful meal with a family who had three girls at home. What a delightful family! The father is from West Virginia and know quite a bit about his family. Being a good story teller, he frequently tells the children these stories and ties in a Gospel principle to the story. We encouraged them not only to work on the spiritual passport challenge in family history, but to also record or write some of the family stories and share them with other family members.
 Friday was a different day. We took two sisters to the Ogden Temple so they could attend a session with a recently reactivated sister they had both worked with. We then went on to Salt Lake and had lunch at the Lion House then went to the Legacy Theater to see "Meet the Mormons." We had seen it when it was first released but it was on a small screen and from a computer so it was difficult to feel the full impact of the film. We really had a great experience and we were pleased to see the size of the crowd that was there.
Our main reason for going South for the day was that our granddaughter Caroline had begun to write a play sometime ago. Recently she decided to complete the writing as part of her Young Women's medallion requirements. She chose a cast and wrote some music and had tryouts and was the director for the production.. After many practices and much hard work it was time to put it all together. The cast was prepared for the evening. They really did a nice job and had a pretty nice turnout from family and ward members. We were happy we made the effort to be there.
 Obviously, the highlight for the week was General Conference. We watched all the sessions from home and on Sunday had a sister who is returning to activity come to the house to watch with us. I debated on what to do Saturday night for the Priesthood session and decided to go to the stake center and watch with other priesthood holders there. I was thrilled that Pres. Monson spoke in the Priesthood session, then again on Sunday morning. He is obviously aging but has such a wonderful spirit and attitude for his calling. What a wonderful example of dedicated service!
I was sad to see some protesters register "no votes" during the sustaining of leaders and officers of the Church. All of the talks were obviously inspired. I was particularly touched with the talk on Grace by Pres. Uchtdorf. One of his statements was, "Salvation cannot be purchased with the currency of obedience." Then went on to explain that none of us can earn salvation, the only way we have hope for salvation is through the generous mercy and love of our Savior. He paid the price for our admission and no other way is available to reach that station of glory.