Hello from the Hot Sunny Desert....where the temperatures average about 113 degrees! We had 7 record breaking heat wave days in the month of July. The low/ high was 98 degrees. Believe me, it is hot! We had a missionary in the hospital for 5 days which began with dehydration. I've thought of trying to fry an egg on the driveway, but haven't had time to try it, actually the President says he prefers me to do it over the stove.
Good things are happening in the mission! The Lord is blessing us with baptisms. We had 79 in the month of May, 86 in June and we are heading to over 100 this month. We have baptized 119 families over the last 4 months. Our missionaries are becoming more obedient, with an eye single to the glory of God. They are learning what it means to serve with all their heart, might, mind and strength. That is pretty amazing for 19, 20 & 21 year olds, whose focus at that age is not usually on serving the Lord 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Don't get me wrong, they still do crazy things at times; like rolling a truck as they were going up a hill on the reservation, or building a ramp to jump their bike and splitting their head open, or teasing a rattlesnake, and cutting out cactus needles on their leg with a knife. Thank goodness I find most of these crazy things out after they have been done. Some of them I don't even tell the president about because somethings are just better unsaid. All said, I love my missionaries! They are wonderful servants of the Lord!
Exiting things that happened since my last letter......Elder Kafusi, our missionary from Tonga arrived home safely after his plane was cancelled in Phoenix, and he was rerouted to another airport where they gave him ground transportation to LA airport, where he was to meet his Auntie and had only minutes to catch his flight to Tonga, which only goes once a week. All this was done with no communication and no money. We saw the Lords hand direct us and Elder Kafusi to return home. All this went on as we had incoming missionaries eating dinner and having a testimony meeting. We asked the Lord to handle it because we were busy, and he did. It was a miracle!
President had a birthday! Yep, those grey hairs are becoming more dominant or should I say distinguished. Our cute Elders in Flagstaff, planned a surprise for the President after interviews. They had cupcakes, balloons, streamers, candles and and sang Happy Birthday to him. This Zone always takes good care of both of us. Thanks to Elder VanDyke and Carver.
Last Saturday we had a very unique baptism we attended. We don't go to all the baptisms, but try to make our way around the mission to attend as many as we can. This was a situation where President received a call from a member whose dad was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was dying. He was in a wheelchair and on oxygen. He had been given the discussions many times, but he and his wife had never been baptized. He came to his son one day and told him he had made a mistake, he had been stubborn but recently the Lord had prompted him that he needed to get baptized before he died. On Tuesday, President got the call, we sent Elder Pierce over to finishing giving the lessons with him, and they scheduled his baptism for Saturday. It was a very spiritual baptism. His whole family was there. All members except he and his wife. As I sat and looked at this aged man, 87 years old, in a wheel chair, not looking real well. I wondered how this was going to be done. To be baptized he needed to be fully immersed in the water, just as Christ was when he was baptized. All I could think of was that he would have a heart attack just from going under the water. It was a very touching experience to watch. Afterwards, there was a very peaceful feeling, and a feeling of joy with the family that their father, grandfather and great-grandfather had finally entered the waters of baptism and now they could be a family forever. Tender testimonies were born of the touching experience. The next day we received a call from Elder Pierce and said that this man, Brother Watkins, had passed away the next afternoon. The Lord had preserved him to get baptized and become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (The moral of the story is don't wait so long to be baptized that you cannot have the joy that the gospel brings to your life)
A funny incident this month happened when Elder Dahl came to interviews and was hiding around the corner. He motioned for me to come talk to him. As I got closer I saw that Elder Dahl looked quite different. He actually had a wig on. He asked me if he went into interviews with the wig on if the President would get mad. (They always ask me first whether things will pass the presidents approval) I asked him why he was wearing the wig and without replying, he took it off and then I knew the answer. He had no hair! ( the white handbook is specific about the length of hair you should have, and bald wasn't in the description) He said he went to the $5.00 barber and he came out with a $5.00 haircut. When the President came out of the interview room to get Elder Dahl, he just laughed. Oh, we have fun in this mission.
One of the highlights of the month was our visit from Elder Costa, from the first Quorum of the Seventy, who is over our area. What a spiritual feast we all had as he addressed all our missionaries in the valley. I was grateful that a man of God was guided by the spirit to teach to the specific needs of our mission. I had been teaching our missionaries the importance of keeping their area books up to date. He told of his conversion to the church by two missionaries who were new to the area so they referred to the Area Book (a book of teaching records kept by the missionaries on people they have taught) to see who they could teach. Because two previous missionaries had contacted his family 10 years previously and taught them, without baptizing them, and had written their testimony in the book that this was a golden family to receive the gospel, the spirit directed these new missionaries to find the Costa family and re-teach them, and they were baptized.
Well, this is just a few of the updates of the things that happened in the mission these past few months. In the next couple of days, we will be sending home 15 missionaries and receiving 17. I'm glad I don't have to interview all of them......what am I saying.....I have to feed all of them 5 straight meals! I'm sure glad that the Lord is directing his work and sustaining me!
We are so grateful for this humbling calling of not only serving the people in the Arizona Phoenix Mission area but also the stewardship we have in directing these tender shoots that the Lord is using as his instruments in proclaiming the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless each of you as you turn to him in guiding your lives.