Yea Open Your Mouths and They Shall Be Filled – Sister Garrett’s Experience

Sister Garrett is one of our outstanding Sister Training Leaders. She has recently switched from Spanish work to doing work in a YSA ward. This is an experience she had last week wherein the Lord kept his promises to her: D&C 33:9 Yea, open your mouths and spare not, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your backs, for lo, I am with you.

“Last week, me and Sister Crowther spent a LOT of time tracting. Knocking doors, street contacting, talking to everyone we saw! We didn’t exactly find anyone because of that method… BUT God promises us that if we will open our mouths and talk with everyone, he will lead to us those people who are prepared to accept his gospel. AND HE DID!! If there is one thing i have learned on my mission, it is that GOD ALWAYS keeps his promises! As long as we keep our end, he is bound. So, we put that to the test this week and lo and behold, he kept his promise and sent us Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a referral from a member who missionaries have been trying to contact since way before i got here. She has been going to institute at the community college here all semester long and is interested in learning more. We have tried to meet her, but it has never worked out. On Wednesday evening, we got a text from her that said who she was and that she would like to meet us!! So we texted her back and had a conversation about how she has liked institute, the Book of Mormon, etc. We set up a time to meet her at church on Sunday, but God wanted us to meet her a lot sooner than that.

Friday morning we got a call from Karyn, the member, and she said they were helping Elizabeth move and needed us to come meet her! So we did! We drove straight there, and the Elders who had helped her move were waiting for us to get there so they could give her a blessing. We went inside and she told us how she had just left home because of an abusive situation and needed some help. The elders gave her a very inspired and powerful blessing, then left. We decided she needed a little more spirituality and more of a pick me up, so we went to the church and gave her a church tour. It was SO POWERFUL! The spirit was so strong as we wandered peacefully through the halls of the church, pointing out different pictures, talking about Christ and how he can help us, it was such a sweet experience. When we came to the chapel, we went inside, explained what it was and its purpose, talked about sacrament, and then sang “I Believe in Christ”. Despite the fact everyone is a little tone deaf, it was beautiful and heart felt. We taught her a short, spirit filled lesson on the Restoration right there in the chapel and invited her to be baptized, and she said YES! Elizabeth will be getting baptized in 2 weeks. Before we left the chapel, my companion asked Elizabeth to pray right then and there and ask God if this is what he wanted for her. She said one of the most sincere prayers i have ever heard. By the end, we were all in tears and she told us she knew this is what she needed and wanted.

Elizabeth is so excited about her baptism! In Gospel Principles class, we had to introduce ourselves and say one exciting thing that happened to us this week and Elizabeth stood up and said that her exciting thing was she had made the decision to be baptized!! Everyone was shocked for a moment, but then congratulated her and she invited them all to the baptism! haha It was perfect for our other 2 investigators there, who are having a harder time accepting baptism, to hear her excitement about baptism. (It also helped that the lesson just happened to be on Baptism that day… coincidence? I think not!)

When God promises, God delivers. That’s not to say that there won’t be bumps in the road and that this miracle will happen every week, but if nothing else, it built my testimony of Obedience to God’s commandments. As missionaries, we are commanded to speak to everyone. I have been a little selective with my interpretation of “everyone” on my mission and therefore, wasn’t gaining all the blessings God had in store for me. But when I started keeping my end of the deal more, so did he! God is Good!” More to come on Elizabeth next week.

Missionary Miracles 5.16.2014

D&C 42:6 And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.
“How do angels speak? They speak by the power of the Holy Ghost. And how does the Holy Ghost speak or teach? It is illustrated in 1 Nephi 11 when the Spirit takes Nephi and teaches him what his father saw. The pattern is “Look”, “What do you see?” followed by our response. Then the Spirit fills in the gaps with light and knowledge. You can follow this pattern with ease using the Restoration pamphlets and its pictures.” Mike Hemingway, Director of Proselyting for the Church

Service Begets Service (and teaching opportunities!)

We have been giving much service this week and are planning on giving more this next week. There is something so unique about doing service and sharing the gospel at the same time. Lets just say it works miracles. We were moving this older lady into our area. There was a friend she had who introduced her to the missionaries up in Mesa and she was soon moving to our area in Phoenix. So as we where helping the son out moving things from the truck to the retirement home of his mom we slowly talked to him about how he came in contact with the missionaries. We got to know him pretty well and eventually asked him the question of “what role has religion played in your life?”. He expressed to us that he would love to go to our church. Also the mother as we were going inside her home she continually expressed her gratitude towards us and the church. By the time we were done she asked the question, “what can I do for you since you have helped me out so much?”. As she asked this question I reflected on the things I had seen in the truck that were hers. One of the items I saw was a sewing machine. Also I reflected on a small portion of guidance about asking people what they can do to give service for the church. I went by the Spirit and eventually asked her, “well our Young Women from church would love some lessons on sewing and hemming, do you think you can help our young women out by giving them some lessons?” She expressed to us that she loved sewing and that she would love to do that for the young women. She said that being around young people helped her feel young. We gave her our contact information and the address of the church. We are planning on having her over to teach the young women in the near future. (Elder Ortiz)

If You Have Faith To Carry a Pass-along Card, the Lord Will Bring People to You!

Another week has quickly gone by and we are so happy with the miracles and things that are happening in this area. We are really seeing many amazing things happen. This past week we have been focusing on sharing the message of the restoration with members by teaching with the “Angel” method and keeping it short. After the message we invite the members to carry around a pass along card telling them that if they have the faith to carry it with them they will be placed in the path of someone who they can share it with. Another thing that Sister Jones and Johnston are doing in their ward is that they have worked with the ward council to start a one month challenge for every member of the ward to pass out a copy of the Book of Mormon to someone by the end of May. It just started yesterday so it will be neat to see how they do and what miracles they are able to find through it. (Elder Groneman)

Be Bold, but not Overbearing….

On Saturday I had exchanges with elder Txxx who is such a wonderful missionary. We saw many miracles.
One of our goals was to set a baptism date for May 24th. We didn’t know who, but we were going to do whatever to get it. We had faith that it would happen. So at the end of the day, we had a wonderful member with us who was able to share his testimony with Andrew. It was an incredible lesson. We invited him to be baptized he said hes not ready/not sure. We talked about taking a step of faith. Believing that God would give him his answer. We re-invited him for May 24th he was stunned. I could feel that the spirit there was so strong and that he had felt it. I know that we were bold but not overbearing. He accepted. It takes a lot of Faith to accept and its going to take faith in our part to help him get there.(Elder Stockdale)

There are no Co-incidents in the Kingdom!

We received a referral to go contact for a family that lived in our area. It was a member that lived in Mesa who had invited them to take the missionary discussions. We put them into our plans the next day to go and contact. However, when we got there, we arrived about 5 minutes earlier than we had planned to be at their house. It was a duplex and we couldn’t see the letter’s A or B, so we tried knocking the first door. No one was home. We went and tried knocking the second door. No one was home. We went back out to the car, and we tried to turn on the GPS. It has always worked, the entire time that I have been in this area. However, this particular time, Elder Txxx couldn’t get it to turn on. He tried unplugging the cord a couple of times, holding the button, everything, and it just wouldn’t turn on. Thinking maybe I had the magic touch, I took it, and tried to turn it on. However, it didn’t work for me either. After a few minutes of trying, we began to pull away and try to find the next place in the plans. Just as we were driving down the street, a car pulled right by us, put on it’s blinker, and went right into the drive way. The GPS was just sitting in the middle console, and all of a sudden, without even touching it, it turned on! Elder Tarr and I looked at each other, said a thank you prayer, and then went and contacted the family that was our original referral. God knew they were almost home, so He kept us there just a little longer.
The longer I am out, the more I realize that God is truly directing His work. He knows who He has prepared, He knows where they are, He knows what they need. If we can connect with heaven, we will then become the instruments in His hands we are meant to be. (Elder Tarr)(Elder Wilson)
I don’t know if I told ya’ll about

Be diligent in the Work, Listen to the Spirit

We went to talk to a less active man, Mike, but turned out we knocked on the “wrong” house. Can you guess what we did as missionaries? We knocked on the neighbors house. Turns out Mike and Joyce lived next door to the address we were given. Mike is a lifelong member of the church, just inactive. Joyce is not a member at all. So. Again with the missionary stuff, we teach a couple of lessons, and invite them out to church. Well they come. Joyce absolutely loved it. They had to leave right after sacrament meeting, but talked with us saying she never felt anything like this and will be back for all 3 hours of church next week. It’s amazing how the Lord works. Moral of the story: Be diligent in the work, listen to the spirit, and you will accomplish the things the Lord wants accomplished. (Elder Russell)

The Power of Member Examples

We were walking around our area one night talking to everyone we saw, and we came across a guy fixing his car. We started a conversation with him and tried to help him out. His name is Joe. He told us about everything that has happened to him recently and how he isn’t in the mood for God. He ended up listening to us for a while as we bore testimony to him and asked ‘heaven sent’ questions to get him thinking. You could definitely tell the Spirit was working on him. A few minutes later, some guys pulled up to their house and I called them over. They ended up being returned missionaries themselves and one of them served in Chicago where Joe used to live. They had a good conversation about that, and Joe started changing his upset attitude. He decided he was just going to walk home rather than try to fix the car, but one of the RM’s offered a ride. Joe was shocked, because he doesn’t live close at all and doesn’t even know the guy. He pulled Elder Pxx and I aside and asked us why the RM offered him a ride. You could tell his whole night got turned around. As we began to leave, he told us that he was actually baptized a member of our church years ago when he was in the Marines. He said it was because of people like us that he got baptized in the first place. Amazing experience! (Elder Pilkington)

Sacrament Meeting Converts!

The Miracle of this week was on Sunday. We had THE BEST fast Sunday Ever! Our meetings were pretty typical for the morning: ward correlation then ward council followed by church. Justin came to all three hours of church again this week. We are so excited to see his progress. He is doing amazing. In our previous lessons we had talked to him about fast Sunday and he was excited to hear the testimony meeting. We mentioned, more as a side note, that he would be allowed to bear his testimony if he felt so inclined. That surprised him but then said that he would just listen. For Sacrament meeting the second counselor is conducting this month and he bore his testimony then asked the congregation a question, “what does the atonement mean to you?” The first few testimonies were all centered on Christ’s love and the Atonement. It was very powerful. Then to our surprise Justin gets up and goes to sit on the stand to wait in line to bare his testimony. Sister Rxxxx and I were so proud of him. He started off by saying that the spirit was prompting him so strongly so he needed to get up and bear his testimony. He then told about how he came to know of Christ’s existence and His love for Him. Justin said that as he was kneeling to pray he offered a simple prayer asking if Christ was real. He then felt the most overwhelming feeling of Love that he had ever felt and tears started running down his face. He never cries so he knew that was a witness to him that Christ was real and that He loved him very much. Justin was then confused because that feeling of love was so familiar and yet he didn’t even know Christ existed before that moment so how could he have felt it before. His answer came when he started meeting with the missionaries. The Missionaries taught him that Jesus Christ was his elder brother and that Heavenly Father was literally his Father. Justin said that after he learned that he knew it was true and it made sense why Christ’s love for him was so familiar – because he lived with Him before this life, he was family. After Sacrament meeting Justin came up to us. He was just beaming, so happy that he couldn’t contain it. He said that he never knew how much his testimony would grow just by sharing it to others. (Sister Morley)

You WILL be Led as Nephi of Old…

We saw an amazing miracle this Thursday night. We had an appointment fall through and a back up fall through in our plans. We pulled into a parking lot and said a prayer. I simply asked, “Where do we need to go right now in order to find who needs us.” I pondered for a minute and a name came to mind so we went straight to visit the Brewster family, a less active family in the ward. When we got there only King, their 20 year old son was home. We’d never met King before, but we asked if we could teach him a lesson. He told us that we could, and because he said the house was to messy, he followed us over to the church. We taught King a short powerful lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He opened up to us that he had gone through something pretty tough recently. During the day he had prayed three times that someone could help him out because none of his friends were responding, and he felt alone. Then we showed up. It was powerful! He came to church on Sunday, and we’ll continue to work with him to try and help him get active in applying the Gospel in his life again. (Elder Wilson)

Arizona Scottsdale Mission – Latest Arrivals 5.12.2014 (Including Ukraine Arrivals)

This past Thursday I received an unusual call from Salt Lake City. Our Missionary Department contact, Bro. DeLaMare, indicated that the missionary department was sending 3 missionaries on Friday to our mission. The Ukraine Donetsk Mission was closing due to the ongoing conflict in the region and we were on the receiving end of 2 Sisters and 1 Elder who were being transferred to the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. We hastily devised a plan to put these missionaries infield with a companion through transfers and picked them up on Friday evening – the end of a 22 hour day for them. Elder Bumgarten, Sister Schrecengost and Sister Hopkin (all from the USA) arrived safe and sound and ready for a good night’s rest after a snack of roast beef sandwiches prepared philly style. Between that and the breakfast of Swedish pancakes the next morning, there missionaries were basking in the return to American cooking from their typical meals of borscht (root vegetable and cabbage soup).

Arriving Monday, May 12th from the MTCs in Mexico City and Provo were 5 Sister missionaries: Sister Havea (from Tonga), Sister MacKillop and Sister Knouse (Spanish speaking), Sister Taylor and Sister Hess. The Mission is now about 40% Sisters and we’re loving their “touch” throughout the mission! After a tour of the Mesa Temple Visitors Center where we also did the individual and group pictures, they headed back to the mission office for lunch, orientation and a nap (it’s 2:30 in the morning when the Mexico City MTC awakens the departing missionaries for their trip to Arizona). They each had a great first contacting session where several referrals and Books of Mormon were placed followed by dinner and an early bed time.

Tuesday was the mission-wide transfer meeting where Sister Sweeney and President Sweeney shared thoughts on Faith, followed by the showing of the Church’s recent videos on Mothers and Easter. Soon enough, each new missionary was paired up with their new companions and were off to their new assignments. We love these newly arrived missionaries already!

LoLo’s Chicken & Waffles

Missionaries LOVE food! And there is no better place for fried chicken in the mission than LoLo’s Chicken and Waffles in downtown Phoenix.

I know we’re the Scottsdale Mission, but within our mission boundaries lie ALL of downtown Phoenix. The Arizona Diamondbacks play here, as do the Phoenix Suns. High rise skyscrapers dot the landscape where our missionaries labor. It is a great place to do the Lord’s work!

Sister Sweeney and I feel a special interest in these missionaries. They have the hottest temperatures in the mission (the concrete seems to hold the heat till far into the night) and the least amount of greenery. On occasion, these missionaries deserve a special reward from their mission president, so in mid-April, Sister Sweeney and I joined them for lunch on preparation day at the restaurant of their choice. Their choice? LoLo’s!

It’s mason jars full of Kool-Aid that the restaurant calls “Drank”. It’s fried chicken southern style. It’s waffles. It’s collard greens. It’s delicious! And it’s a well-deserved break for there hard-working servants of the Lord.

L to R: Elders Russell, Pinkston, Williams, Hunt, Ortiz, Bennett, Armatage, Livermore, Erickson and Gonser

March 2014 Departures

Sister Sweeney and President Sweeney hosted 4 departing missionaries on March 30 for their farewell dinner.  The 4 Elders above enjoyed a “Cafe Rio” dinner buffet  as their last meal here in the mission – followed by a mission fireside with each other.  This sacred time was spent sharing testimonies among the missionaries and Pres. and Sister Sweeney.

We will miss them greatly!

Departures – April/May 2014

April and May were bittersweet months as we said farewell to multiple missionaries on multiple occasions. Many of our visa waiters were able to get their visas to Brazil – and thus Elder Bond, Elder Molinaro, Sister Basham and Sister Archibald – who had been in the mission for 7 months or more (Elder Bond reached his half-way point just as he left) all departed during the past few weeks.

We also said goodbye to the May departing group consisting of Elder Pinkston, Elder McNabb, Elder Hernandez, Elder Broomhead, Elder Taylor, Elder Rigoli, Sister Holyoak and Sister Tenney. These fine missionaries have served well and return to prepare for school and their lives ahead. All of them have made significant contributions to the mission and we will miss them.

The farewell dinner was held Sunday, May 11th and featured Sister Sweeney’s version of Cafe Rio – shredded marinated chicken, black beans, Texas caviar dip, all covered with a delicious salsa verde dressing – with dessert prepared by our senior missionary office couples, Elder and Sister Williams and Elder and Sister McConkie. These couples are our assistants in every endeavor we find too much to handle alone and we love them dearly.

Seeing Double

Finally, President Sweeney’s twin brother came to town. It was a week of double-takes from missionaries who thought they had just seen their mission president – but who was this guy that looked very much like him.

In Taylor, while President Sweeney took a call, his twin (Kurt) and his wife (Lori) went inside to meet Sisters Lythgoe and Thompson (who had just spoken in Sacrament Meeting). After President Sweeney came in, we took this photo with the Sisters to see if the other missionaries could find the “real” mission president. [It’s a little hard to read, but the “other” President Sweeney is wearing a name tag that says “Sister Thompson”]