Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Easter Pagent

Our good friends Charlie and Nancy Brooks, who once lived in Cincinnati but now reside in Mesa, went to see the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant with us. It was an incredible performance of the Life of the Savior and His Resurrection. The beautiful costumes of the massive cast were so authentic and the message was touching to the thousands that gathered on the temple lawn to hear the message of the Resurrected Christ. President had the opportunity to give the opening prayer to the multitude that were gathered from far and near.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

President Begay

After the hike up Sunrise Mountain, the Elders showered and gathered at the mission home for some more instruction. Sister Beck was so sore that already every single muscle in her body ached, but with the help of Sister Sorensen and Sister Eager we pulled together a meal of Hamburgers on the grill, baked beans and fruit, with Root beer floats for desserts.

President John C. Begay
President John C. Begay is one of the counselors that helps the work on the Reservation. At the Christmas Zone Conference he usually chants "Jingle Bells" in Navajo with his drum. (It doesn't even sound like Jingle Bells) This last time he didn't have his drum because it was lost, so during the Zone Council Meeting after the hike, we presented President Begay with a new drum and he sang to the Elders.

"The Sky is the Limit"

It was time to take our 20 Zone Leaders, most of them new since the last hike, on a training experience up Sunrise Mountain in Peoria. We began at 6:30 at the point of the mountain just after the sun rose and began to climb up the mountain. The purpose was to send a message to our "Senior Leadership" who were our Zone Leaders and were in charge of leading their individual zones in the mission. We needed to be unified in purpose to reach our goals of doubling our convert baptisms.

A little nourishment of bagels, gogerts and juice was supplied before the Zone Leader Hike

And the long hike began............

The Arizona beauty is truly unique. The flowers in the valley and mountains were all in bloom!

The climb up Sunrise mountain was all about lessons of life. We all had a goal to reach the top, and for some it was easier than for others (that included me). There were stones along the paths that made it difficult to climb at times, and at times we would slip and fall, but with the help and encouragement of others we all made it to the top. At one point, some of the missionaries in the front began on a path that was a little longer and easier around the mountain and found they had to backtrack to the rest of the group to get back on the path that took us straight up the mountain. Just as life has many different paths that we can take, some of them not in direct line with where we need to be going, there become the need to backtrack. We also learned that we need to plan and communicate before hand the direction we should go. I being one of the last of the group, and falling quite far behind the group, found myself yelling to those who had reached a plateau and were looking back down the mountain at us, we were those lost sheep who had fallen behind without anyone to guide us and encourage us to keep on going.

At different points along the hike, President would stop and point out the view in the valley. We found as we climbed the mountain our view became broader and our vision more clear with what we needed to do as the Lords instruments in sharing His message to all in our mission. Too many times we are satisfied with the view we have when there is so much more for us to experience and strive for.

Each missionary put his rock on the pile at the top of the mountain, signifying his commitment to lay on the
alter those things that were keeping them to be the instrument they needed to be as the Senior leadership in the mission. It was up to them to create the "Lord's" culture of the mission. It would take great commitment, hard work, diligence and endurance to accomplish this great work.

At the top of the mountain the view was beautiful and clear as we looked from the North to the South and East to the West. We had a great work to do and President Beck gave an inspirational talk of encouragement and motivation. We finished by pulling out our new APM flag and raising it to the wind. We have incredible Zone Leaders that are humble and love the Lord and were ready to go make a difference. We ended by reciting the mission Statement which was created several months ago by the Zone Leaders themselves.
It states:

In the Arizona Phoenix Mission
We Baptize and Confirm
We are a "Preach My Gospel" mission
We love and Live the Book of Mormon
We obediently love and Serve
We always listen and follow the Spirit

Yes, I was the last one down the mountain as each step was very painful. I wanted to quit or at least go at my own pace, but President took my hand and pulled me down the mountain. He asked that the next time I go hiking I get shoes that fit. I was grateful I made it down to the bottom without a stretcher. I knew my recovery would not be soon.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who says I can't Play Basketball?

Every Monday is preparation day for our missionaries. It is a time for them to prepare for the upcoming week and do their laundry, wash their cars, clean their apartments and write home to family. Even though those are the priorities and reason for Preparation day, the thing they look forward to is a time to let it all out and recharge themselves. This is one of the activities they do.....and this time they persuaded me to be a part of it. I use to play basketball in high school and loved it, but it did wear me out. I had a fun time sitting under the hoop and waiting until one of the missionaries passed it to me to make a basket. They are the greatest and I got my exercise for the week!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A scent of Heaven

You can get an idea of all the rains we have had in the desert this month. This is a picture of our back yard after one of the rain storms. We have already received a years worth of rain. Everywhere you look you can see blankets of green. It is amazing to see the small mountains covered in a spring green rather than a desert brown. It is a desert beauty.

A blanket of green covers the mountains that are usually brown!

I love this time of year when all the flowers are blooming and the flowers are so bright and beautiful. My favorite things is the smell that the orange blossoms put off. It is like a sweet perfume that penetrates the air. To lay in bed at night and have that fragrance seep through the open window is enough to make anyone think they are in heaven. Only one problem, the birds in our backyard must be mating and they are bird calling all night long making it impossible to go to sleep.

Zone Conference - "Divine Companionship"

Our theme for the March Zone Conference was "Divine Companionship". In order to be effective missionaries we needed to have a third companion and that is the Holy Ghost. It is the Holy Ghost that brings things to our remembrance as we teach, it is the Holy Ghost that is the converter and testifier, it is the Holy Ghost that directs everything we do, including leading us to those who are ready to hear the gospel;or the elect. Every thing we do as missionaries require the divine companionship of the Holy Ghost. We all learned that if we didn't have our lives in order and were not being obedient then we would not be able to have the Holy Ghost to guide us in this work. In fact, we learned that "If ye have not the spirit, ye SHALL NOT TEACH." It is commandment language, just like Thou shalt not lie. I think that was an eye opener for many.

The highlight for our missionaries, I think, was the demonstration President Beck and I did on having our own Companionship Inventory. They got a first hand view of how companionship inventory should be. We opened our own companionship doors and let them in to see how we solved problems and become united as a companionship. It is something we all need to do, especially in our marriages so we are united in purpose. Each week every companionship should sit down and find out what is working and what is driving them apart and then come together.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who says President Doesn't Take Preparation Days!

It really happened! President took a morning P-day and went fishing with our Assistants on Saturday. I must admit he was on the phone most of the time, but at least he got out of his suit and looked the part as he set up the poles for us real fishermen. He has resolved to take more P-days since we have been told this calling is a marathon not a sprint. I have to remind him of that often because he is running faster than I can keep up with. This way he can really enjoy the journey.

I caught a 13" Bass and another smaller one and Elder Carver caught a small trout. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed being out in the spring sun and enjoying all the wildlife on the lake.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Zone Leader Council

These are our mighty Zone Leaders in the Mission, who work hard to lead and inspire the work in their respective areas in the mission. We have 10 zones across the mission from Page up North to Buckeye on the South who come together monthly to be instructed and motivated to lead their Zones.

I gathered all their shoes as they were being instructed, for a visual to show all the footwork they do as leaders in the Arizona Phoenix Mission. They truly wear out their SOLE'S in serving the Lord.

The best part of the day is being fed a good meal. My only challenge is to get Elder Hanna to eat his vegetables! It is truly a difficult task although, I must admit he has made some progress.
I love these Elders!

Welcome Elder Crandall

Elder Kyle Crandall was just made our new Spanish Assistant to replace Elder Grayson. Elder Crandall has been a Zone Leader with Elder Beams and they have done an amazing job with the Spanish work. Elder Crandall is a humble, hard working missionary and will add much as he and Elder Clarke work with our Spanish speaking missionaries to accelerate the work.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Transfer Day

The challenge after Transfer meeting is to get all the Missionaries and their belonging into the vehicles
as they transfer them to their new areas. It can be a real challenge sometimes.

Elder Ely, who is in charge of all the housing for our missionaries, makes sure cleaning supplies are available for each of the apartments. After the last training on "Apartment Cleanliness", there were a lot of requests for supplies. I guess our missionaries realized they couldn't do a good job of keeping their apartments clean unless they had the proper cleaning supplies. Thanks Elder Ely!

That is a great color for a suitcase Elder Chalmers.
You won't have any trouble identifying which one is yours!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Welcome to the Arizona Phoenix Mission

Our Newest Arrivals from the MTC are Elders Anderson, Armstrong, Grady, Read, Zollweg, Trussells,
Dahl, Tameilau, Johnson, Wren, Wilson, Sieverts, & Sister Urias, Sister Aydelotte, and SisterKunz

As we waited for the luggage, President Beck assured our new
missionaries they had arrived in the #1 mission!

It wasn't a sunny warm day when our missionaries arrived; instead, it was cold and wet, but it didn't seem to bother "our anxious to get out of the MTC and start working missionaries." They were just glad to be here!

After leaving the MTC at an extra early hour, they were all ready for a hardy lunch of pulled pork sandwhiches. Elder Tameilau, waited to go last because he was extra hungry and wanted to make sure everyone had eaten before he got into the line.

Elder Jordan Clarke, our Spanish Assistant, spends some time getting to know our new missionaries. Two of them are recent converts to the church and shared touching conversion stories with the group.

Just before we send our new missionaries off to meet their new companions at the transfer building, Sister Beck makes sure they are up on their manners by showing the a timeless clasic "Manners for Missionaries". Our missionaries are fed nightly by investigators and members alike, so we want to make sure they know just how to act so they get invited back.

Watching the "Manners Video"

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Rainy Send Off

It was a rainy day for our departing missionaries, but the smiles were still on their faces as they departed from the Arizona Phoenix Mission. Our departing missionaries were Elder Cox, Elder Huston, Elder Orleman, Elder Bullock, Elder Willcocks, Elder Miller, Elder Baker, Elder Flory, Sister Hancock, Sister Sepulveda.

Once again, the departing meal of carne asada, prepared by President & Sister Lopez, is always a big hit with our departing missionaries. It is something they always look forward to.

A breakfast of waffles with all the toppings, fruit smoothies and President Beck's omelet was the menu for our departing missionaries. Some just couldn't quite bring themselves to eat as they were a little nervous to return home to their families.

A loaded van of anxious missionaries ready to depart for the airport.
Elder Willcocks had a long ride home to Australia ahead of him.