One of our Elders from Hawaii, Elder Lakatani, was in our zone conference last week and I noticed that his shoes were….a little worn out. In fact, I couldn’t let him go without making a time to get a replacement pair! We met that night at a local discount shoe place and he’s back in business preaching the gospel in his Pima Indian Reservation area today.
I have often said, that one of the greatest secrets of missionary work, is…MEMBERS!
Just yesterday, we had several great experiences in our work that members were a part of. First, we were able to contact a referral given to us by members during ward correlation a few weeks ago. When the brother gave us the referral, he was actually a little bit doubtful. He told us that they already were part of another church, and probably wouldn’t listen to us or have the desire to learn more, but that he understands the importance of members helping missionaries. We didn’t have SUPER high expectations from his description, but of course we knocked on the door anyway. They didn’t answer. We knew they were home, but they wouldn’t answer the door. We pretty much agreed with his description of the family and left. We returned to that apartment complex last night to help the member family that had given us the referral with service, and we decided to try again. We grabbed one of the members that was there, and tried again. This time, they DID answer. They man looked a little annoyed at first, but as we talked and testified to him how much the Lord wanted him to hear our message, his annoyed appearance changed. We asked if we could share more with him, and to our surprise, he invited us in. Before we started, we invited the other family members to join in with us. We were able to get 2 new investigators that are interested and excited for us to return. All from a doubtful referral.
Members to the Rescue!
We had an amazing experience yesterday following your council to contact daily…. we went to the park in Show Low and we talked to these teenagers about God. One said he was atheist and with Elder Ridge and elder Rudy’s help he now has a book of Mormon a Mormon .org card and is planning on reading it. Nick, his friend, was a little bit tougher to crack (nick). He had prayed every day for thirteen years that his grandpa would not die from cancer. But his grandpa died. He took that as an answer that God didn’t care and that God couldn’t help his family. The new elders told him that he just didn’t know how to recognize the answers that God gave him. We testified that we were servants of God and that he had sent us to him as an answer to his prayer… (needless to say he thought that was a funny thought), but then one of our members drove by, stopped hopped out of his car jumped the little fence and joined our conversation. We asked our member to explain his answer to Nick. His answer was exactly the same as ours: we need to know how to recognize that answer from God. He then explained Alma 32 and how if we nourish the desire we have until we believe we can begin to recognize God’s answers in our life. then a recent convert of the Sierra Pines Ward joined in for a little bit and then he left. All in all two members stopped what they were doing to seek out a missionary experience. It was awesome! (Elder Shirley)
God Is Great
So we have an investigator that is from China! He doesn’t know English very well, and we had a hard time explaining to him who Jesus Christ was the first time we saw him. So a week ago we went in there and he told us he is moving to Chicago the next day! So we wanted to teach him something important! I felt that we should at least make sure he knows who Joseph smith was. So I opened up our Restoration pamphlet to the First Vision painting. After we asked him what he saw in the photo, he looked at it for a while in very deep thought. He said I see Jesus and GOD. I use to think that they were the same person, but I know now that I was wrong. His simple testimony was soooo strong and impactful that I could not help but tear up, I smiled at him and said “Jinedang (that’s his name), do you know that God loves you?” He just smiled back and said “Yes.” I asked him how he knew. He then went on to tell a very simple but another powerful story. He said, “when I was living in China, as a kid I needed help from God. I was told that there was not a God, but I just prayed. I didn’t know how to pray, (while touching his heart) I just did from my heart. HE paused for a long moment and then looked up right into my eyes and said, “God Is GREAT.” I could not hold back the tears and I smiled back and agreed, “God Is Great!” I had a hundred emptions going through my body in that moment, I thought of my sister and how she would always say, “God is good” I then realized that He is not only good but great! HE loves all of us SOOOO much! He can’t help but show us that! This simple testimony from a man that could hardly speak English was sooo strong and powerful that the entire room was full of the Spirit! I know that God lives and I know that He loves us! This Experience will stay with me for years to come! (Sister Doolhoff)
A Testimony is to be Found in the Bearing of It
Sunday we had such a great day. Cura and Alex came to church. They usually come and sit in the foyer. But that day they came in, and CURA BORE HER TESTIMONY!!!! It was amazing! Then later that day we went to their house to teach them a lesson. They are both 19, and recently married. Both are less active. Cura has always known it is true, but Alex has questioned a bit. When we first started teaching them he said, “I don’t even know if the Book of Mormon is true…” Now they read every night together, and pray together as well. They have accepted the invitation to meet with Branch President to go do baptisms for the dead…and Alex said the closing prayer. He said, “God, please help me to get back on track to become a good Mormon, so that I can get the Melchizedek Priesthood, so that I can go to the temple and be sealed to Cura for all eternity.” WOW!!!! We did nothing but teach the lessons in order, and testify with the Spirit. God has truly prepared these two and it is so amazing to see. (Sister Chase)
Members and Missionaries Working Together – Story 1
I was able to go back to Phoenix this past Saturday For a Baptism of someone I taught named Bro Romanowski. The first time Elder Burnside and I taught him, our Relief Society president and our Elders Quorum president asked us to go on a visit to see their family to invite them into the ward. As we got there we found out that Sister Romanowski was a lifelong member of the church but less-active and her Husband Brother Romanoski wasn’t a member. That visit was perfect because the Elders Quorum President became really good friends with Brother Romanowki and the Relief Society President became really good friends with sister Romanowski so it was a perfect example of “Hastening The Work”. From here on out They we both taught the lessons and Brother Romanowski was Baptized. The Baptism was great!!! Brother Romanowski was able to bare his testimony and he talked about how the Church of Jesus Christ has always been there for him and through reading and praying he was able to get his answer. This is exactly how missionary work should be down with the members and missionaries working together. With this we are able to see true conversion. (Elder Leslie)
Stories 2, 3 and 4
After the baptism, a member of the Bishopric went with us to see people, we went to McNary and no one answered the door, and the member said that he remembered going to a house with the Elders about a year ago, but he could not remember the name of the people. So we went and knocked on the door from a year ago and a guy answered and said to come in and we had a lesson with him and his wife. They are a part member family; she is a less-active and he is not a member and they have three kids; one passed away a year ago. The father said that all of his good friends were LDS and he knew that there is goodness there, and the Bishopric member asked if the Elders could come back and teach him and he said yes. I know that that visit would not have gone as well, and we would have never found them If we did not have that member.
Then On Sunday, We had a ton of people at Sacrament Meeting, a bunch of less-actives, and one investigator. It’s how we found Brandon, who is a less-active member. He came with his mom, who lives in another ward and is also less-active and his sister who is also. But the mom and sister are really good friends with the stake president and sent us to go visit Brandon, So we did and he is so prepared to come back! He wants to find out for himself and read and pray about the Book of Mormon. The Bishop went with us and, again, it would not have gone as well if we did not have a member with us. His fiancé was not there yesterday but is going to be when we go back tonight. It’s going to be great!
We also went to contact a referral last night with a member. The referral’s name is Albert. We went over and he welcomed us in and we talked and taught and it was great. He is Catholic but not active and he said that we can come back. The Member was again, key in the visit. (Elder Bailey)
An Investigator Learns Wisdom In His Youth
Yesterday we had another miracle happen. We were in an area that we had only been in once before, trying to contact people from our area book. And most of them weren’t there. But there was one kid outside just playing on his skateboard. So we were talking to him and what he knew about Jesus Christ. His name was Juan and he is in middle school. So we started talking about how we can be happy even when we are in a scary world and he had questions about if God loves us and why good people have to go through bad things. So we left him a Book of Mormon and asked him to read 2 Nefi Chp. 2 and we were coming back to see him Monday night. So then we went home because dinner was cancelled a few hours later, and we were sitting in our apartment deciding what to do next cause we were waiting for the Elders to bring us supplies. Next thing we know, our phone rings and it’s Juan! He said that he had been reading since we left (like 3 hours) and he just had so many questions. Wow. He said that he felt good while he was reading and that he felt it was true. Wow. That’s about all the words I have to describe it. Just like we promised Juan, I know that when we read the Book of Mormon, we can feel the Spirit and feel God’s love for us. We’re going to see him tomorrow so I’ll let you know how that goes. (Sister Lakin)
The Scottsdale Mission Assistants have been teaching a wonderful nonagenarian – so full of life and an inspiration to her extended family. She is referred to by the missionaries as simply “Grandma Hearne.”
Here is their description of a recent lesson with Grandma Hearne:
“We are also still teaching Grandma Hearne. She is the 94 year old lady. She is doing great! She is still a sharp cookie, and she believes that the Book of Mormon is true. I asked if she believed that Joseph Smith is a prophet and she was still a little hesitant about that. We asked her if she had asked God to know if he was a prophet and her response showed how close she is to the Spirit. She said, “I didn’t ask him directly yet. I just asked him why it has taken me so long to hear the message that you are sharing with me. He told me that all happens in his time. His time is eternal, and ours is not.” Imagine hearing that in a slow 94 year old lady voice. It was super cool. As we finished teaching the Plan of Salvation she said to herself how grateful she was that God has a plan for everything to help us return to live with him. We invited her to be baptized but she isn’t going to accept the invitation until she receives her answer. I have a feeling she’s going to get one pretty soon.”
Grandma Hearne was baptized last Saturday – this is her picture just after the baptismal service.
While she can’t become a full-time missionary at age 94, she CAN be a member-missionary. Her family is setting up her profile on facebook to share the story of her conversion.
On 4th of July, we went to a neighborhood parade, we handed out fliers I made about God blessing our country and a link to the video (becauseofhim). We also gave out candy. Nobody wanted to talk though. We also drove to an event at a resort, but it turned out to be a club member thing so we couldn’t go in. Then we approached people outside stores, and they either ignored our friendly approach, or asked us to go away. I got a little choked up and crying inside. I was hot, thirsty, and wanted to go home, but then I prayed for strength and guidance in a new approach. We went home and got lunch and studied Preach My Gospel, and tried to figure out what we were doing wrong. We decided to approach differently and share our testimonies at the beginning. We prayed for a miracle.
We decided to go to old downtown Scottsdale and talk to the people working on the holiday. There were no tourists so people were bored and ready to talk. The first person we talked to was 20 year old Zack. We found out he was baptized in the church, but his family left. He showed interest but agreed to meet with us.
Next we approached a man playing with his dog. He turned out to be an injured minor league baseball player. He listened to us, right when we were talking about prophets, another young man approached with a dog, it was a distraction at first but then he shared with us that he had just returned from Salt Lake and toured the visitor center with the missionaries. He explained that he liked how we had modern day prophets and asked to learn more, because of him, we also got the other mans number.
Next, we walked to one of the stores to check on one of our potential investigators. When we were talking to her, an older Lebanese man approached us asking if we were Jehovah witnesses. He started talking and asked if we would teach him more. We sat with him outside his shop and taught the whole restoration. Halfway through he said that he believed everything we are saying and asked how much money our Book of Mormon cost. We said it was free and he was sooo happy. He asked where he can go to church and when he can see us again. We are hopefully meeting him again Tuesday. It was truly a miracle!
The ASM received a mighty group of missionaries on Monday, August 4th. Coming in were 25 new missionaries (22 Elders and 3 Sisters) all ready to respond to their call to serve! (the influx of Elders seems designed to rebalance our missionary force to the 65/35 ratio the Missionary Department strives to maintain between Elders and Sisters)
The group features 8 Spanish speaking missionaries – including Sister Penalba who is from Panama and is on a 2 transfer assignment to the mission. The missionaries joined the mission on a typical early August day where the high reached 102 – but we let them shed their coats during the afternoon while they went contacting in various parts of Scottsdale joined by experienced missionaries.
Dinner was held on the patio of the mission home – with the misters on – making it a comfortable night for taco salad courtesy of Elder and Sister Dale who serve as housing coordinators and cooks for our large missionary meals. Delicious as always!
Each incoming group has a personality. The word for the August 2014 group: dedicated and confident. Yes, that is two words, but they earned them both with their preparation before their missions and their zeal to do the Lord’s work today. Great things lie ahead!
Sister Sweeney and I have been in the mission field for for a little over a year – and this group of 17 departing missionaries is our largest departing group yet. To say that we aren’t sad to see them go home would vastly understate our deep feelings of love and respect for each of these wonderful missionaries! We feel we’ve grown up with them during our first year. What service they offered to the mission as they each labored in leadership roles while we learned!
It was our pleasure to host them at a dinner and testimony meeting. The menu was “Cafe Rio” – courtesy of Sister Sweeney and Elder and Sister McConkie who added some delicious sweet pork to the dinner. Elder Scott provided the PB&J cheesecake – truly delicious! After a wonderful evening (which featured a rainstorm right as dinner was served – summer monsoon style) at the mission home we left for the airport at 5:30 am Monday morning August 4, 2014. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors!