January has the best weather of the year in Scottsdale! The nights are in the upper 40s with days around 70. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Into this paradise, we welcomed 6 new missionaries – 4 Elders and 2 Sisters – including 1 from Temple Square.
Arriving from the Provo MTC were Elders Proctor, Rivera and Beesley. Elder Ross arrived from Red Rock AZ for a 2-transfer mission, while Sister Ruggles and Sister Radamason arrived from the MTC and Temple Square, respectively. Sister Radamason is from Madagascar and speaks passable French. She is helping with our mission’s efforts to find, teach and baptize French speaking people, mostly from West Africa.
The group toured the Mesa Visitors Center, went out first time contacting and ended Day 1 with driver safety training. Day 2 included a drivers test, training and meeting their new companions. All of these Elders and SIsters are prepared missionaries and are making definite contributions to their areas!
The mission is now down to 185 Elders and Sisters with the prospect of 180 on the horizon. We are thankful for each and every one of them!
Concepcion is our investigator who waited a year and a half for missionaries to pass by her house. She is SO great! I have never seen anyone SO prepared to be baptized in all of my life! Everything we have taught her she has just applied, and effected in her life. The day we taught the Word of Wisdom she stopped drinking coffee, the day we taught her about the Law of Chastity…she broke up with her boyfriend, the day we taught the 10 commandments and keeping the Sabbath day holy…she told her boss she no longer could work on Sundays.
We did so well up until we taught her about following the prophet. She said she would like to learn more but that she wasn’t quite yet ready to follow Thomas S. Monson as the prophet today. So we left her with the Liahona and with the invitation to pray to know if President Monson is a prophet today. So we kept on teaching her but then on Saturday night she told us that because of the Super Bowl she was having to work on Sunday and wouldn’t be able to make it to her interview with Presidente Castineda. We promised her that if she didn’t go to work the Lord would bless her.
Well come Sunday, she came to her interview!! She had told us that she told her boss she simply couldn’t work on Sunday. But the best part of the story is that she got that strength to say no from an article she read by Thomas S. Monson in the Liahona. In the article it talks about how Thomas S. Monson had to give up his commission he had worked to hard for just to continue his calling as a counselor in the bishopric. Had he not done so, he wouldn’t be the prophet today. Concepcion gained such a testimony from reading that article and by applying it, now has a testimony that President Monson is the living prophet today.
[Shared with Permission]
Last week i learned so much about Sacrament and the Atoning Sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ and every single study i have, i got something new. Everything make so much sense to me and up to this morning i couldn’t help it but crying and I deeply feel how much my Savior do loves me. I set a goal for my self to work on, every Sunday during sacrament , i need to ponder and think about my Savior Jesus Christ.Recall on every wrong doing i made the past week and truly asked for his forgiveness.
I learned that ONE hour that i’m sitting in sacrament meeting, is equal to the Hour he asked his disciples to Watch with him at the Garden of Gethsemane.Only An Hour he asked me to Watch with him while he pray at the Garden of Gethsemane. Its the time we should accompany him at the moment of his agony, at the moment he suffered to take away the sins of the world for him. Every time i read about the disciples as they fell asleep when they were asked to watch with him, i thought to myself, it was only an hour but they couldn’t,and i realize now that i was just one of them every Sunday. I don’t pay attention or even listen to the words of the hymn even the sacrament prayers. Is something that i want to work on is to ponder the sacrament prayers even the sacrament hymn and think about how much he gave for me and for my family and friends.
I learned As the priesthood extend his arm to offer me the sacrament, it is the Savior extending his arm and offer his Love, Peace, Forgiving, Atonement for me. And why would i deny that gift? i asked myself.I do really need his Love and the Peace he has for me. His forgiving and his Atonement. It is his love that keeps me going and i know deep inside me that he will never leave me alone. I truly realize how much the sacrament really mean to me. It is a two way covenant we made with him, We promise that we will always remember him and keep his commandments at all time, and his promise to us, he will forgive our sins and the Holy Ghost will be with us at all time. It’s been a really tough week and it’s not easy at all but through my Savior, everything is possible. As i ponder his great love for me and treasure his precious blood that split, will provides the way for me to return back to live with him again and to be with my Family For time and Eternity.
Weddings happen! Even when missionaries are serving, weddings happen. No, missionaries don’t get to attend the wedding (even when it’s held right next door at the Gilbert Temple). What’s a family to do?
The Shirleys, Kevin and Jacque, have their son serving in the mission. They dropped by to say hello and pick up some of Elder Shirley’s things – on their way to the wedding of their son (Matzen) in the Gilbert temple about 15 minutes from the mission home. While there, they displayed for us the (almost) life-sized cardboard cut out of Elder Shirley – their fearless pole vaulter turned terrific missionary – who was well represented in the wedding photos!
Thanks for sharing Elder Shirley with us!
With each departing group I say to Sister Sweeney, “It just can’t get any better than these Elders and Sisters!” Truly, we feel this departing group had a tremendously powerful impact on our mission. Such leaders! Many of these Elders and Sisters performed miracles as they entered areas where missionary work had been struggling and lifted it by their faith and works. Sister Thompson excelled in this effort along with Sister Crandall (who had a baptism after being ET’ed (emergency transferred) into her final area with only a few weeks left). Sister Andrus and Sister Stevens became seasoned trainers who leave behind a legacy of strong Sister missionaries.
Sister Christensen opened up Reserve/Luna New Mexico to missionary service after never having FT missionaries there. She and her other two companions literally sang their way into the hearts of the people there – singing the national anthem at basketball games, inaugurations and at porch steps all over this beautiful and remote county. Elder Keeler likewise re-opened Cibecue Branch for missionary work. Cibecue is on the White Mountain Apache Reservation and has struggled to retain it’s 500 members. Now, with seminary re-started, addiction recovery classes well along and Sacrament Meeting attendance doubling, Elder Keeler can take some justifiable pride in his labors.
Elder Corbridge served as one of the Mission Assistants and are great golfing partner. He was a model of dignified obedience. Elders Swanson and Pope along with Sisters Faw and Wheelwright trained and led Spanish work in multiple areas in the mission. They were exceedingly powerful in their testimonies and vision of the work that needed to be done among the Spanish speaking members and nonmembers laboring so “that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (D&C 90:11)
Elder Armatage, Elder Carter and Sister Carroll and Sister Yates each labored in both the Mountains and the Valley and all made major contributions and exercised exceeding faith. We are proud of them!
We are in the middle of Stake Conference season where visiting General or Area Authorities preside and generally invite the mission president and his companion to attend and participate. These are joyful times filled with learning! Mission Presidents never can learn enough! So last week it was Elder Greer who taught and we learned some things to share with our missionaries. This week it was Bishop Causse – the First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric – whom we met and learned from.
Bishop Causse related that he was called to the Seventy (to serve until he was seventy they said in the call) when he was 44 years old. He remarked that he wondered how he could do this for 26 years. But, he knew the person who called him was speaking for the Lord, so he said “yes” to the call to serve, knowing “whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.”
We love the St. Johns stake, the members there (especially Pres. and Sister Platt who provide us a wonderful place to stay while we visit) and our dedicated Elders who serve there!