“Late” Monday Miracles – 1.20.2014

Thirty Years Away But Returning to the Temple and the Church!
The next experience was an experience I know I will remember for the rest of my life. Pretty much since I got up here (Ft. Apache), I have been working with Brother and Sister Cheney. They came back to church for the first time in over 30 years about a month ago, and they have been faithful ever since. They have their sights on the temple! The way we found them was a miracle too! Elder Vete, Elder Leslie and I went to visit a member for referrals one day. He wasn’t home but his less active grandson was, so we talked with him a little bit and ask him for a referral. He couldn’t think of anyone but we were determined to get one! We told him to name of the first name that comes to his head. He said “Jon Cheney, but I don’t think he would be interested at all.” We took it anyways and went to visit the Cheneys! We found them and he was so grateful. He told us that just a couple days before he was on his knees praying for help and answers, and all the sudden we showed up! What a miracle! Yesterday he bore his testimony to us and the feeling of the Spirit was overwhelming. He talked about how we were an answer to prayer and that he needed to come back and how he wished he never left. He talked about how he knows this is the true church and while he was talking I couldn’t help but see him as a great leader in the church one day. He is a very influential man in the reservation and I know he will bring many people back just through his example. I love being here in Ft. Apache. The feelings I had during Brother Cheney’s testimony were the same feelings I had during Kyras baptism. I know that the work of bringing people back is just as if not MORE important and the Holy Ghost testified that to me yesterday. I love this work, I love this mission, and I love this Gospel!

Inviting – Nothing Gets Done Until We Open Our Mouths!
Now for the miracle this week. it was the last day with elder rxxx and we were going to visit rosalinda, a long-term investigator that hasn’t given up coffee. Well she wasn’t home, and we were about to leave when her daughter came out and then invited us in. we sat down and then she started the conversation by telling us that she was less active but that she wants to come back. Also her husband is not a member and she wants us to teach him and help him become converted. She then adds that she has been talking to her group of about 20 friends from when she was active (who are all less active part member families now) and they all want to come back to raise their kids the right way. So basically this fell into our lap and there will be tons of people affected just because we had a plan, and had visited an investigator we had been prompted to visit at that time. The church is so true! It truly was a miracle and I am so excited to see what all comes of it and how this will impact the area.

Six Weeks A Missionary – And “Still Here”
Well, there have been stressful days, there have been happy days, there have been busy days, disappointing days, and just days that are long, but we’ve worked through them, and am still able to do the work; so I figure we haven’t died yet, so we must be doing alright.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ Changes Lives – Jesus – Continuing
Jesus is still our little gem of a hard-working, studiously searching, spiritually starving, physically fighting (his addictions not us ha ha) investigator. Thanks to Father, Jesus is progressing. I think he really is putting in the effort to stop drinking and thanks to Sister Hxxx, we know of addiction recovery classes we can have him go to. Since he is currently unemployed, he should be able to go. Faithfully (like “hopefully” but we’re putting effort into it so it falls more under the category of “faith”) he will be spiritually and physically prepared to soon enter the waters of baptism.

The Gospel Changes Lives – A Second Witness
The man who sells ice cream and used to live in a wood shack moved into a trailer that his Christian friend left him as inheritance. And we saw him at Church and I called him out during my talk saying how happy I was to see him and to see everyone like him who can make changes in their life. Because he was always so depressed in that little wood shack whenever we’d visit him. And now after having known of him for a year and visiting him for months he is happy. We see him smiling, sharing the Gospel. He read the whole Bible and Book of Mormon. We see him with his children and he’s learning English. And he wants to have a wife and do good things in his life.

Office Staff and Assistants

OfficeKnowing we had an all-mission picture to take – and also knowing that a panorama picture was not the type you should try out just before the real event, there was some practicing going on in the office a couple of days beforehand. This picture captures Elder Williams, our vehicle coordinator (strength posing), Elder McConkie (our Finance clerk) and the two Mission Assistants – Elders Fullmer and Tarr. A mighty talented group!

January 2014 Departures – Elder Gibby

Elder GibbyWell, the Mission has had few departures these days – and continuing our string of “one is the loneliest number” departures, Elder Gibby departed in early January back to his home in the midwest. Although it was mid 30s here in Arizona the morning he left, it was well below zero in his hometown. He promised he would still get on the plane and return to his waiting family! Elder Gibby labored mostly in the Mountains in smaller communities. He left a legacy of dedicated service. Our love and best wishes go with him.

October 2013 Departures – Elder Sims

Elder SimsHere is another of our departing Elders – Elder Sims pictured here with a family he helped activate and baptize. They shared his departing dinner and testimony meeting with him. Elder Sims extended his missionary service for 30 days (an option the missionary can elect with parental support) and he was most effective. During his extension, he and his companion (as Zone Leaders) presented a presentation in the Scottsdale North Stake Adult Session of Stake Conference – to great reviews from those who attended. They left ready to invite others to listen to the message of the restored gospel. We bid you farewell and godspeed, dear Elder!

November 2013 Departures – Elder Eskeets

Elder EskeetsWe’re behind in some very important posts – our departing missionaries. In November, we bid farewell to Elder Eskeets – a Navajo speaking Spanish! His mother drove to pick him up since he had relatives in the area. This picture captures them the morning of his departure.

Elder Eskeets was a gentle, effective missionary, well representing his Navajo forebears. We will miss him!

Sister Training Leaders – December 2013 Edition

Sister Training LeadersFront to back, left to right: Sisters Jones, Mortensen, Tenney, Sanchez (Back Row) Sisters Hubmann, Pew, Heap, Crowell, Garrick, Carrillo, Arevalo, Cole and White

It was only last April, when the flood of missionary applications – and especially of Sister missionaries — reached a new high, that the term Sister Training Leader was officially put into the Mission lexicon.

You may ask, what does a Sister Training Leader (STL) do? Answer: A lot of marvelous training of the Sisters that makes the mission run much better and keeps the Mission President (mostly) sane!

STLs function like Relief Society presidents – always under the direction of the priesthood, but with great autonomy. Each STL companionship trains between 3 and 5 companionships of Sisters. The size of the group depends mostly upon geography. In areas where the Sister companionships are further apart, we generally have a lower ratio than in Scottsdale. There are 10 zones in the mission – 7 in the valley and 3 in the mountains. Effective last this month, for the first time ever, we have Sisters in every zone (the last zone to get Sister missionaries was the Biltmore zone which covers the English speaking units in the Phoenix East Stake).

You may ask, does a zone with Sister missionaries perform different than one without? Answer: Yes! Just as in other situations in the Church, the addition of the Sisters AUTOMATICALLY causes an upswing in Elder performance. They dress better, talk nicer, and are just generally more dignified if Sisters are around. Slide1
I’ve used this slide to illustrate the desired effect of Sisters on Elders!

From teaching dress and grooming, proper safety techniques, and etiquette to missionary contacting, planning, teaching and even bicycle riding – the STLs are there. And, are they ever terrific teachers! They are among the top teaching and baptizing companionships in the mission. In areas where wealth or a desire for isolation creates a barrier, Sisters can get places Elders just can’t.

Sister Sweeney and I love these wonderful, dedicated missionaries!