Our Mission’s Second Santa – Sister Jerrell!

Every year we try to get “something” for our missionaries for Christmas. Last year, due to the upcoming Gilbert Temple dedication, we got them embroidered temple dedication white handkerchiefs. This year, with no temple dedications in sight, we were unsure what to do.

A couple of months ago, Sister Laura Jerrell, a newly-called Church Service missionary who coordinates our Just Serve assignments – and in her spare time mends missionary clothing – came to me with an idea. Seems over the years she had accumulated a lot of fabric – odds and ends, closeouts, etc – for a wise purpose she knew not. She had woken up in the middle of the night with the idea – sew pillow cases for all 200+ missionaries! She asked if I would approve it. “Of course!”, I replied.

And so for the next 2 months she labored – churning out many more pillowcases per day than she had at first thought she could do. And, they were BEAUTIFUL! In November she delivered all 250 of them to the mission home where we kept them until the day of the Christmas Luncheons with the Missionaries. We then had the pleasure of introducing Sister Jerrell and letting her explain the gift she had made.

The Elders and Sisters greeted her with applause – especially after Pres. Sweeney showed them his new “Grinch” pillow case! The most poignant pillowcase for Sister Jerrell – a tried and true Arizona State fan, was one she did for Elder Russell, a University of Arizona fan who was in Sister Jerrell’s ward a few months ago. True to her idea, she had some U of A fabric crafted into a beautiful pillowcase.

Sister Jerrell epitomizes the wonderful members of the Church – who under inspiration do marvelous things to serve others. We thank her and her wonderful husband for their sacrifices on behalf of the missionaries of the Arizona Scottsdale Mission!

December 2014 Christmas Celebration Dinner and Temple Trip

Valley Zones - Phoenix, Biltmore and Scottsdale

Valley Zones – Phoenix, Biltmore and Scottsdale

Valley Zones - Maricopa, Papago, Pinnacle and Paradise Valley

Valley Zones – Maricopa, Papago, Pinnacle and Paradise Valley

Mountain Zones - Apache, Payson, Show Low and Snowflake

Mountain Zones – Apache, Payson, Show Low and Snowflake

All of the missionaries in the mission were invited to attend the temple in December as part of our year-end Christmas celebration. Because the mission is too spread out to go to one temple, we go to two!

On Wednesday, Dec. 17 we gathered all 80 of the missionaries in the Mountain Zones at the Temple View chapel in the Snowflake Stake for a delicious dinner of roast pork, mashed potatoes, green beans and chocolate Texas sheet cake prepared by the wonderful Snowflake Stake Relief Society Presidency. The luncheon featured a capella singing by the Luna Sister missionary trio – and was phenomenal! Afterwards, we went to the Snowflake Temple for an endowment session, sealings, baptisms and initiatory work. The missionaries LOVE the temple and how strengthening it is to their greater mission.

On Thursday, Dec. 18 we gathered 4 of the Valley zones and on Friday, Dec. 19 we gathered the remaining 3 Valley zones in the Inter-stake Center (a church facility built near the Mesa Temple to host family and stake activities) for another wonderful meal prepared by Elder and Sister Dale, our missionary service couple consisting of ham, funeral potatoes, buttered carrots, spinach salad with strawberries accompanied by cake and ice cream for dessert. We are indebted so much for Elder and Sister Dale’s service to the missionaries! Afterwards, we went to the Mesa Temple for a temple chapel session followed by an endowment session.

Many of the missionaries found names of their ancestors and brought them to the temple to perform saving ordinances for them.

We wish all of the parents of our missionaries a wonderful Christmas! We are thankful to each of you for supporting your son or daughter as a missionary. We appreciate the thoughtful cards sent to us by many of you. Both the cards and your missionaries are our true Christmas treasures!

President and Sister Sweeney

New Mission Office Staff – Sister Bass and Sister Wolfley and Elder and Sister Allen

The Arizona Scottsdale Mission has been blessed to have the most supportive and dedicated Mission Office staff EVER!  The McConkies and Williams were wonderful blessings to the missionaries and to the parents of Arizona Scottsdale Missionaries!

With their departure, we welcome two wonderful Senior Sister Missionaries and a new local service missionary couple to fill the ASM office staff roles.

Sister Llewanne Bass

Sister Bass is the new Mission Office Secretary.  She was recruited to join the ASM Office staff as secretary by President and SIster Sweeney who were well acquainted with Sister Bass through her service with them in the 1990s while she and her late husband Sam served in the Seneca Maryland Stake.  Sister Bass served as Mission Secretary in the Germany Frankfurt Mission from Sept 2012 to Sept 2014.  Sister Bass is the person who parents will rely on day-to-day for requests of the Mission Office.  Her phone number is 480.951.8098.

Sister Carolee Wolfley

Sister Wolfley is the new MIssion Office Financial Secretary.  Sister Wolfley served a previous mission in 2010-2011 in the Dallas TX and West Valley City UT Employment Resource Center.  She will assist missionaries in paying for bicycles purchased in-field.  Her phone number is 480.951.8098.

Elder and Sister Allen

The Allens live in the greater Phoenix area and commute to work every day.  Elder Allen is the new Mission Vehicle Coordinator and Sister Allen is the new Mission Referral Secretary.  The Allens just returned from a 1-year mission to Leeds, England where they served as activation and leadership missionaries.

Be patient with all of us while we get up to speed.  The Williams and McConkies left B-I-G shoes to fill!

Farewell to Elder and Sister McConkie and Elder and Sister Williams

Just after transfers (you know we’d make them stay through that!) in December, we bid farewell to Elder and Sister McConkie and Elder and SIster Williams, our office couples who opened the mission office in June/July 2013.

It might be thought too much to say these couples were the “dream team”, but in truth, they were so efficient, kind and thoughtful, the missionaries and parents bestowed countless notes, cards and pictures upon them!  Sister McConkie’s office was often festooned with a missionary creation given to her.

When Elder Williams inherited the Vehicle Coordinator role, he was tasked with changing the tone of missionary compliance to mission vehicle cleanliness and safety from punitive to a rewards-based motivation.  He created the “Arizona Scottsdale Mission Golden Plates” – a license plate holder with these words – colored in gold – which was awarded from that time forward to the best car in each zone.  It was a huge success as missionaries competed to win the coveted plates (and when 2 cars tied, 2 plates were awarded)!

Not to be overlooked were the many late-night calls where missionaries would have had an accident, or a car wouldn’t start, etc.  Often, Elder Williams and Sister Williams would be the first on the accident scene, making sure the missionaries were cared for and got medical treatment as necessary.

Elder McConkie completed all of the missionary funding on time and within budget.  Sister McConkie flawlessly arranged travel home, ordered supplies and kept a watchful eye on things at the Mission Home whenever President and Sister Sweeney were away on interviews and zone conferences.  Both couples pitched in at transfer time – often cooking for the departing missionaries and helping set up and clean up.  The McConkies also hosted arriving Elders or Sisters in their apartment and provided breakfast to them and made sure they were back to the Mission Office the next morning chipper and ready for a new day.

To say we love and admire – and miss them – is an understatement.  In every possible way, their influences on these missionaries complemented what we hoped the ASM missionaries would learn – and become.

We wish them continued happiness as they return to Florida and Utah.

Tis the Season – Missionaries “Just Serve” in Payson AZ!

Payson AZ is a great place! It lies northeast of Phoenix at the base of “the Rim” – meaning a bluff some 2,000 feet higher than Payson’s 5,000 feet elevation. It is nestled in pine trees, and it provides a relief from the heat of the valley for all missionaries fortunate enough to be assigned there.

In December, the town celebrates Christmas with a parade – and because the parade organizer is a member – they recruited volunteers for the parade “characters” = pine trees and gingerbread men. Enter Payson’s Elder and Sisters. These dynamic missionaries donned the costumes and marched/acted in the parade. This marks Sister Crandall’s 2nd year doing her version of a Christmas Tree – and she’s good at it!

Just Serve is the church-provided website where non profits can advertise their need for volunteers. The Arizona Scottsdale Mission saw the posting asking for volunteers and promptly answered the request. These missionaries joined hundreds who volunteered for the Christmas Parade. It’s the perfect way to make long-term friends with the communities we labor in.

Arizona Scottsdale Mission – Latest Arrivals 12.8.2014

Bright and early Monday, December 8th, the Arizona Scottsdale Mission welcomed 9 arriving missionaries, including 3 from the Mexico City MTC.  We are thrilled to have these wonderful new Elders and SIsters join our mission!

Let me introduce these missionaries and their trainers:

Elder Hepworth is from the Seattle area and is called to speak Spanish.  His trainer is Elder Johnson – himself a missionary that is only out 3 months, but who is very skilled in Spanish.

Sister Taylor is from the flatlands east of Denver and is called to speak Spanish.  Her trainer is Sister Lakin who is an expert in soccer, which is often played as a missionary activity in our Spanish branches.

Elder Letourneau is from upstate New York and is being trained by a fellow New Yorker, Elder Martinez.  These two actually know each other and are already great friends.

Elder Peterson is from rural Idaho and he is an avid outdoorsman.  His trainer is a recent convert and only member of his family, Elder Stratton.

Sister Villalta is from Pennsylvania and has a great family conversion/activation story!  She is fluent in both English and Spanish – and she is laboring in two wards – a YSA ward and a Spanish Ward.

Sister Medrano is from the great state of Texas and is called to speak Spanish.  He companion, Sister Aguado, was born in Mexico but has lived in Arizona for most of her life – and is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Sister Lyons is from Mississippi and is laboring in a YSA ward and family ward – with her companion, SIster Richards, who has been out for only 3 months but is a super strong missionary and trainer.

Elder Towle is from Utah and his companion, Elder Nevin, who is from Texas, comes from Arizona pioneer stock and has many relatives all over the mission.

Elder Merrill is a two-transfer missionary who is getting experience doing real missionary work before he submits his full time missionary papers in Spring 2015.  His companion is Elder Burggraaf.

These Elders and Sisters come well-prepared and they are already making an impact to the mission!  We love them already!

Departures – December 2014

We have reached the mission milestone where for the first time, some of the missionaries who are going home are ones we welcomed to the mission!  It is a great and dreadful day!  Great because we have been able to see the tremendous growth of many of these missionaries since we first met them in the MTC before their arrival in the newly-formed Arizona Scottsdale Mission – – AND all of them are SUCH STALWART and TRUE missionaries!.  Dreadful because our mission hourglass is now just above 1/2 full – as we complete our 17th month of 36 months.

Scottsdale Missionaries at the MTC

Scottsdale Missionaries at the MTC

Above are the Spanish-speaking Sister missionaries who entered the MTC in June 2013 (when this picture was taken) and went home this transfer.  Included in the departing group are 2 Temple Square Sisters who concluded their 2-transfer in-field assignment (both are French Speakers – Sister Gariki from Tahiti and SIster Bernhardt from France) looking to teach those who primarily speak French.  We could not feel more blessed to have known these wonderful Elders and Sisters!