Monday, April 20, 2009

April Update

It is time for a update from the "Barren Dessert". The temperatures have begun to rise, and this week as we have hit 100 degrees. The air conditioning is on and we are ready for the heat. This is the dreaded time of year for our Valley missionaries as they go out tracting every day to find people to teach about the restored church. This is where the true test of endurance comes in for them. It isn't easy to knock door to door and have people reject you and to beat the streets in the heat of the sun. But they do it, some better than others. There is a law in Arizona, that you have to give someone a drink of water if they knock on your door and ask for it. That is to their advantage to be able share the gospel.

The flowers are colorful and beautiful all around us in the desert scene. President's 6 tomato plants are doing well. They are small but delicious, we will loose them soon with the heat coming on. We have had a surprise dropped on our front porch this month. A valley quail laid eleven eggs in our geranium plant on the front porch. They are nestled underneath the momma quail. She doesn't like visitors to come to the front door though. We are anxious to see them hatch and grow.

Yes, it was a busy 6 weeks as we have prepared for Elder Bruce C. Hafen, from the first quorum of the seventy, to come for a 3 day mission tour. The pressure was on as we prepared for his visit. Getting all our ducks on the pond as he evaluated our mission and interviewed many of our missionaries was quite a project. The treat was the 2 days of Zone Conference instruction he gave us on the Atonement of Christ. I realized that my knowledge of the atonement was pretty basic. It has been said that, "The atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths." He told us that every attempt to reflect upon the Atonement, to study it, to embrace it, to express appreciation for it, however small or feeble it may be, will kindle the fires of faith and work its miracle toward a more Christlike life. We were all spiritually fed by he and his wife.

Another highlight this month was going to the Mesa Easter Pageant. It was an amazing portrayal of the Saviors life up to his resurrection. The costumes were so authentic that it made it all come to life with a back drop of Jerusalem to make it more realistic. At the end of the pageant, as the Savior rose in the air above all the people in the America's, as told in the Book of Mormon when he also visited his other sheep, it gave me chills as I watched him ascend to heaven. It was a wonderful event to remind us of the great gift our Savior gave to each one of us to return back to live with him some day.

Each 6 weeks we have a fireside for all our new converts. Many have born testimony of their conversion. I was impressed with the ones from this month. One of them was a 17 year old girl who was raised Catholic. She took the missionary lessons and knew that this was what she needed in her life and was baptized. When she told her parents, they kicked her out of the house. She was devastated that her parents couldn't accept that she had found something so precious in her life, and that despite the objection of her parents she still was baptized. After this happened she prayed fervently that her parents would accept her decision. The next day her mother called her up and apologized and asked her to come back home. This was a testimony to her that the Lord was aware of her individual need of being accepted by her parents. It took great courage to take that leap of faith and join the church. The other person was a Baptist Minister. He said he originally started taking the discussion to convert the missionaries. With his knowledge of the bible combined with the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today, the Holy Ghost bore witness that he needed to be baptized. His testimony was strong and the satisfaction and joy that was displayed in his countenance was heart warming to all who were in attendance. He was already sharing the gospel truths with many of his congregational friends. The gospel blesses lives and this is one of the highlights of serving in the Arizona Phoenix Mission.

It is hard to believe that we have been out here for 10 months. It seems like forever in some ways but time is going rapidly. We have so much work that needs to be done here that we need to work harder and faster in sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I invite all of you who have not heard this message to invite the missionaries to come to your home to know more. I know that this is the way, the truth and the light and the only way we can return to live with our Heavenly Father. I have seen the blessings come to all who embrace this and enter the waters of baptism

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Easter Surprise

We had a nice Easter surprise. I noticed one day that there were three eggs nestled in my geranium plant on the front porch. It seems like every time I looked at it there were one more added to the nest. It was as if the Easter bunny was making me aware of the beauties of spring with birth and growth everywhere. It was fun watching the nest grow. Today we have 11 eggs and the mother quail is now sitting on them. We have to be careful not to use the front door or she gets scared away (just ask Elder Wright who peaked in to see the eggs and the mother flew up and into his face. The frightening look on his face was worth a million.) We are expecting little quails to be poking out of their shells soon. Stay tuned for the next photos of the little quails in the nest.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Elder Bruce C. Hafen's Mission Tour

Elder Hafen and his wife visited our mission last week and spoke to us on the Atonement of Christ. It was a very inspirational message for all of us and one we need to take more time to internalize in each of our own lives. He visited with each of our Zone Leaders and interviewed missionaries to help us get a better idea of how we can improve the mission. It was a very busy but uplifting week. They are great people!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Our Office Staff

Elder Lundgreen's last official day in the office. He served as an Assistant to the President for 9 months and gave all his heart, might, mind and strength. It isn't easy to be an Assistant! There is no glamor to the calling despite what others might think. You aren't a popular missionary at times because you always have to be on display and keep the missionaries on the up and up. It is a demanding position. You are always on call for all the missionaries, have projects till late hours, training of Zone Leaders, exchanges with other missionaries to see how they are doing, assist the President in all areas in planning, not to mention their regular responsibilites of tracking, teaching and baptising. They are young men that are humble and solid in the gospel and are willing to serve.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Celebrating Easter with David & Barb

My brother David and his wife Barb and Kaylee and Kayden came over for Easter Dinner. David was here on business and it was fun to visit them and their sweet children. Kayden kept us running and his favorite thing was to flush the toilets and chase the bunnies in the yard. We had an Easter egg hunt for them in the backyard. Kayden consumed more candy in that short period of time than you could image. We also had a chance to go to the Mesa Easter Pagent with them. It was a fun visit.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our New Assistant Elder Wright

Elder Rose was made our new assistant with this transfer. He will bring spiritual strength to leadership to the mission. We are excited to have his organization skills to help us out.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Mesa Temple Easter Pageant

The Mesa Easter Pagent is a must for all to see. It is a pageant of Christ's Life which is beautifully portrayed by a cast of 400 members whose costumes were authentic and beautiful. This is Elder Lundgreen & Elder Wright who went with us to the pageant.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April Incoming Missionaries

These are our newest group of missionaries. We only had 6 arrive, one was kept in the MTC because of a health problem. They came into the mission ready to serve.
Elder Ashcraft, Elder Miller, Elder Rodriguz, Sister Hudson, Elder Beard, Elder Coburn

Monday, April 6, 2009

April Departing Missionaries

Elder Lougee, Elder Lamb, Elder Reid, Elder Bishop, Elder Gullion, Elder Pack, Elder Fano, Elder Enslin, Sister Little, Sister Martinez, Sister Hildenbrandt
When the outgoing missionaries come into the mission home, President begins their interview/goal setting with each of them. As they wait their turn, they enjoy a little badminton in the back yard.
President Morris, another one of President's counselors always provides a sense of humor for our missionaries. He takes his stab at the carving of the ham for dinner.
This is the last supper for our missionaries. It is a dinner that President Lopez, our Hispanic counselor to the president, cooks for the missionaries. It is carne asada, rice, beans, and salad. It is a delicious meal they all look forward to because of their love for President Lopez.

After our testimony meeting and final instructions, we give each of our missionaries a binder which contains a yearbook of all the missionaries they served with. It also has a section of the baptisms they were involved with, and all their companions and where they served. We also give them the Christmas DVD of the activities of their mission experiences.
Elder Lamb's anxious parents came to the mission home to pick him up after the closing activities of the night. It was a sweet reunion between longing parents and a worn out missionary.

It is bedding time as our tired missionaries blow up the mattresses and head into slumber land wondering what their reunions will be like the next day. We did hear loud burst of laughter late that night and found out the next day they were reminiscing about the funny things that happened on their missions. Earlier that evening I tried to instigate a new tradition with outgoing missionaries to tell me some of the things that they had done that were under the radar, but they didn't think that would be such a good idea. It would be like your children telling you all the things they did growing up that you had no idea had transpired.
Breakfast consists of waffles with all the topping, scrambled eggs, and Orange julius. Then our missionaries pile all their luggage into the trailer and truck. After quick good-byes they are off to the airport with the assistants. That gives me about 2 hours to prepare the next lunch meal for our incoming missionaries, clean up the house, do the washing of the sheets and towels and get to the airport for our next group of missionaries.
Our outgoing missionaries going through security. Sometimes it works out that they see the incoming missionaries on their way down the corridor and give them a heads up on the mission.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Well Done Thy Good and Faithful Servant

What a telling picture this is! I love it because it truly depicts the 2 years or 18 months that our missionaries serve with all their heart might, mind and strength. These 18-21 year olds leave behind those they love, thier school, and their previous life to serve the Lord. They work long hard days of having doors slammed in their face, rejection, and hot temperatures as they diligently seek out those who have not had the gospel shared with them, in hopes they will be able to "invite others to come unto Christ" and have them enter the waters of baptism. Feeling the true joy and change that the gospel brings to those who accept it, gives them hope that all their efforts are not in vain. Because they know that we are all spirit children of a Heavenly Father who loves us all and desires we can all return to live with him some day through the gate of baptism they labor harder than they ever have in their entire lives. As they go home you can see they have truly worn themselves out in the service of God.