Missionary Wisdom – Elder Aaron Russell

From our missionaries and shared with permission:

“I had this wonderful revelation about pride last night. It’s really long so bear with me. It was related to me by relating it to cancer and the evil and destruction it’s done to so many people.

“Pride is like a cancer. It begins in the mind, tainting the thoughts within and dimming the bright thoughts of charity. Soon, it spreads to the eyes where it blinds you to the tender mercies of the Lord. From there it only moves to the ears which makes you deaf to sound advice and the whispering of the Spirit. From there it moves to the mouth in degrading speech and harmful comments. Then finally it sinks deep into your heart where you heart becomes cold and hard to the true teachings of the Lord. It finally ends in your feet in treading over the words, servants and anything else of the Lord. Luckily for us we have a cure prepared for us. The Light of Christ. It fills our soul and will eventually unclog the blocked valves of the heart, softening and warming it. It moves to the mind, enlightening understanding and love for the spirit, which in turn allows your eyes to open to the miracles of God, helping the spirit whisper into the once deaf ears. It allows you to profess truth and light from that once filthy mouth. And finally it washes your feet of the sins and mistakes you have stepped in only because you are not on them anymore. But you are on your knees speaking to our Father in Heaven, thanking him for that cure and asking for forgiveness for the mud you’ve stepped in.” This is what I have learned this week. I seek that cure so much. And it will take time, but I know of it’s cleansing power, especially with the Holy Ghost.” Elder Aaron Russell

Mission Leadership Council – Feb 2014

The mission organization is based on the Church-wide system of councils.  Mission Leadership Council serves this purpose as it unites all of the zones, Sisters and Elders and Mission President and Companion, to draw down the powers of heaven.  Once ratified by MLC, decisions on everything from the current month’s training emphasis to new ways to find investigators are discussed and approved.  It’s not a stretch to say this council serves as the pathway to inspired decisions – and as a training ground for future Bishops, Elders Quorum Presidents, Relief Society Presidents and (most importantly) husbands and wives.  The deliberation process is slow, but careful and the outcomes are always better than a single-person’s decision.

The wisdom of councils is illustrated in this story by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

Recently, a bishop who was concerned about reverence in his ward expressed his concern to the members of the ward council and asked for their suggestions. Hesitantly, the Primary president raised her hand.

“Well,” she said, “one person consistently does a lot of enthusiastic visiting in the chapel just before and after sacrament meeting. It can be pretty distracting.”

The bishop had not noticed anyone being especially noisy in the chapel, but he said he would talk to the offending party. He asked the sister who it was.

She took a deep breath. “It’s you, Bishop,” she said. “I know you’re just reaching out to people, and we all appreciate your desire to greet everyone who comes to the meeting. But when others see you moving around the chapel talking to people during the prelude music, they figure it’s OK for them to do the same thing.”

When others in the ward council nodded in agreement, the bishop thanked her and asked for recommendations. The council soon decided that the bishopric, including the bishop, should be in their places on the stand five minutes before sacrament meeting to set an example of reverence in the chapel. During a follow-up discussion, the council members indicated unanimously that the simple plan had worked and that reverence in sacrament meeting had improved decidedly.

Thanks be to God for the councils of the Church!  And thanks to those wonderful Elders and Sisters who serve in our MLC!

L to R, Front to Back:  Sisters Jones, Pew, White, Tenney, Mortensen, Arevalo, Cole, Archibald, Rasmussen, Hubmann, Crandall, Garrick, Carrillo, Sanchez and Sweeney

2nd Row: Elders Livermore, Vickrey, Van Meeteren, Johnson, Leslie, Groneman, Thorne, Miles, Hansen, Stockdale, Corbridge, Bailey, Keeler, Ortiz, Tarr, President Sweeney

3rd Row: Elders Hernandez, McNabb, Mecham, Lindeman, and Clark

Mission Interview Photos – January 2014

In January 2014, Pres. and Sister Sweeney toured the mission and conducted interviews with every missionary in the mission.  (That’s 218 for those of you counting)  At each session (Except Paradise Valley) we took zone photos which are shown below.  We will update these photos again in March at zone conferences.

At these interviews, each missionary was invited to declare a “weapon of rebellion” that they would sacrifice and “bury deep” like the Anti-Nephi Lehis did.  The most popular answer was “pride.”  Since there is no single definition in the scriptures of “pride”, those selecting this weapon were invited to go to Moroni 7: 45 – which is a definition of charity – and change the word “charity” to pride and reverse every attribute listed.  Thus it would read, “And pride is impatient and is unkind….”.  Doing it this way, they had a pretty good list of the attributes they wanted to do away with.  Their weekly letters since then have been filled with their efforts to develop more charity and less pride.

Arizona Scottsdale Mission – Latest Arrivals 2.17.2014

We are delighted to welcome 17 new Elders and Sisters to the Mission!

Arising by 3:30 a.m., this group of 16 from the Provo MTC and 1 from the Mexico City MTC arrived at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix at 10:15 on Monday, Feb. 17. They looked marvelous! President and Sister Sweeney were joined by Elder Tarr and Elder Wilson, the Assistants, in greeting the new arrivals. First stop after baggage claim was the Mesa Temple Visitors Center where they toured the VC, got to know the new VC directors (Elder and Sister Cameron), and took individual and group pictures under the trees adjacent to the temple. It was cool (in the 60s) but the sun shown brightly all day. After a 15 minute trip to the mission office, the group enjoyed lunch cooked by Elder and Sister Dale followed by interviews with President Sweeney and orientation from the Mission Office staff (Elder and Sister McConkie, Elder and Sister Williams, Elder Morgan and Elder Dale).

Then it was off for some “Proselyting 101” at various places around Scottsdale. The entire group performed wonderfully, placing multiple copies of the Book of Mormon and getting referrals for other missionaries. After dinner and a brief fireside to discuss the day’s learnings, the missionaries were ready for bed.

Tuesday began with exercises and breakfast of waffles, eggs and bacon prepared by President and Sister Sweeney. The new missionaries joined in various trainings until noon when their companions were introduced to them for the first time. This group is READY! They have maturity, desire and humility!

February 2014 Departures – Hermanas Sanchez & Garrick & Elders Kawano & Quiner

Hermanas Garrick & Sanchez, Elders Kawano & QuinerOur second group of departing missionaries left the mission Monday, Feb. 17. Two of our most diligent and effective Hermanas (Spanish Sisters) – Sisters Sanchez (from Spain) and Garrick as well as 2 fine Elders, Elder Kawano and Elder Quiner (American Sign Language) departed for home. We held their farewell dinner and testimony meeting the night of Feb. 16 with President and Sister Sweeney grilling steaks and vegetables to enjoy. Both Sister Sanchez and Sister Garrick served as Sister Training Leaders; Elder Quiner was a ZL and ASL missionary; Elder Kawano and President Sweeney spent considerable time his last week teaching a Japanese investigator – and he was an excellent teacher! Sayonara to all!

Pictured L to R – Sister Sanchez, Sister Garrick, Sister Sweeney, President Sweeney, Elder Kawano, Elder Quiner

February 2014 Departures – Elders Davis & Ronnenberg

We’ve had two groups of departing missionaries this past transfer: Elder Davis left two weeks early to accept a job and Elder Ronnenberg extended his mission 4 weeks, serving the Lord in an extraordinary fashion. We held their farewell dinner on Jan. 30th with several other former companions in attendance. The menu featured Philly Cheesesteaks (the missionaries’ picked their favorite) and baked french fried potatoes. Elder Ronnenberg, a former mission president Assistant, finished his last week in the extended part of his mission with 3 baptisms. It was a great way to end things before his return to Denmark.

We love and miss there fine missionaries!