[Shared with Permission]
I visited the Catalina Branch yesterday. It was Kenny Carrillo farewell on Sunday. Kenny is a rescued young man that was baptized when he was 12 years old and spent the next 6 years inactive. 2 years ago, from what he said in his talk, the missionaries asked him to play the part of the missionary and them (the missionaries) the part of the investigator and had him teach them the message of the restoration. Well, he hasn’t left the church ever since. I saw him last week at the Mesa Grande Spanish mission president fireside and asked me if I could attend his farewell. I told him it would be my pleasure. Kenny was assigned the Tempe, AZ mission and is leaving sometime this week.
Yesterday 40 members from Mesa Grande (a Spanish Ward located in the Valley) attended the Payson Spanish Branch. The High Priest group leader (Brother Galindo) planned a trip to go support the members of Payson by attending their sacrament meeting that they hold at 5:00 PM. So far, I have only taken Mesa Grande members to speak there month after month. I told the priesthood that when you issued me the call, that by extension, you had issued “them” the call to support us in strengthening the members of the Payson Branch. Everyone that I’ve taken so far, has fallen in love with that little flock. I think that most of them has worked or served in their lifetime as a leader or as a missionary in a remote part of Mexico with a small branch just like that one, and I guess in a way, it takes them back and reminds them of the happy days, when one engulfs himself in building up the kingdom of our God. I didn’t have to drag anybody up there, President; every single one of them came and gave up their Sunday afternoon. If that is not one of the definitions of Zion, President, I don’t know what is.
When we arrived, they had only 12 cups filled with water for sacrament in 2 different trays, that was the number of people they were expecting, and that even included the 5 of us (my wife, my son and the 2 speakers that I always bring). I saw tears of joy rolling down their cheeks when the members of the Payson Branch saw that these members came to be, for the next 60 minutes their brother and their sister. I sat there and contemplated this selfless act. There is no glory for them in what they did, there is no recognition, no one in the church will ever find out. They did it because Christ is their Savior, their Master and Redeemer, the True Shepherd of that little flock. If Heavenly Father knows, then nothing else matters
Innocent and Patrick
Raphael and Marie Jeanne
The work in the ASM that goes on with the French-speaking Africans is fascinating to watch. Because it involves the agency of others, it grows much slower than one might wish. The work grows like a tiny seedling. As the roots are tender, too many baptisms would overtake the roots and cause the plant to flounder or die.
So it is that in the Fall of 2015 Raphael, a father and grandfather of a large posterity – many of who live in Phoenix – was baptized. From day 1, he has taught and testified to his family that this new path is the path for all of them. It has not been easy for him to convince them.
But yesterday, Raphael’s wife, Marie Jeanne, was baptized. Her conversion involved a choice that was literally threatened to split her family. After her husband’s conversion, she continued to attend their traditional African church with the children. Marie Jeanne felt this was not right, but which church to join she did not know. Here is what happened per their full-time missionary French Sisters:
“Monday night we had a surprise with Raphael’s family; we discovered they had conflicts about which church to go because the father and the mother are going to 2 different churches. The mother who is on date was not acting like she is going to change her life and the kids were frustrated a lot because of that. We didn’t want anyone to have any pressure, and we asked the mother to pray about it. So she prayed and asked God which church to go and to send the missionaries for the church she should join to her door (the church she was attending also had missionaries teaching her) and the first to get there would be her sign that she should join that church. She told us that the night after we invited her to pray, she had a dream where she saw us calling her by her name at her front door. A few hours after she awoke in the morning, we had an impression to go visit her, so we did – unknowingly fulfilling the criteria she had set for which church to join. Now she knows she needs to join this church. And for the first time, she came to church!!!! Raphael was SO happy, he bore his testimony about this miracle this fast Sunday!”
And so the Lord really is able to do his own work! (2 N 27:21) And, He is doing it His way!
Cleaning supplies ready for distribution!
One of the ways missionaries change during their missions is something their mothers never saw before their mission – they begin to appreciate “clean.” It’s in the missionary handbook that every day there should be some cleaning taking place. Washing dishes. Taking out the trash. Spot cleaning the kitchen. The deeper cleaning takes place on Preparation Day.
Preparation Day is supposed to involve a full apartment cleaning. Vacuuming, floors, counters, bedrooms and that most dreaded of all places – bathrooms.
Except for the Church Senior Missionaries who serve as apartment inspectors (and do wonderful work, but aren’t able to get there more than once per transfer), Sister Sweeney sees the most missionary apartments. And, it was her idea that things could get better in the real world. Too often, arriving transferred missionaries would find lots of areas that had not been deep cleaned for months. One of the reasons for not cleaning is simply a lack of cleaning supplies. Missionary budgets are supposed to have funds for purchasing supplies, but when faced with a choice between food and cleaning supplies, all but the most dedicated cleaning missionaries will go with food.
Enter President Sweeney who proposed the mission buy the economical gallon size cleaner (about $7.50) which makes up 70 bottles of 32 oz spray cleaner compared to the ready to use at $3.50 per bottle. It was easy to conclude that we could much more economically equip each of the 58 apartments with generic spray bottles and the gallon size cleaner and be way ahead. The supplies were procured and now every apartment has the means to reach the standard – Mission Home Clean!
Elder and Sister Toone
It’s been about 2 months since our the Mission received its most recent Senior Couple, Elder and Sister Toone, who arrived directly from their home in Canada to serve a 6 month mission on the Pima Indian Reservation, Papago Ward, here in the valley. The delay in posting to the blog is due to them being soooo busy since their arrival, they haven’t had the time to sit down and give their bios!
Elder and Sister Toone bring marvelous credentials with them – including having previous mission experience about 3 years ago on the very same reservation! Elder Toone has served in his ward’s Bishopric, the stake High Council and most recently was Cub Scout den leader. Sister Toone has been the nursery leader for her ward and stake, served in the stake YW presidency and as a teacher in various auxiliaries.
They’ve been re-welcomed into the Papago Ward and are already hard at work helping with various projects including in working in Primary and the High Priests Group. With Sister Toone’s help, the attendance for the Activity Day for the 8 – 11 girls has zoomed from a few to almost 20! They are also teaching after-baptism lessons for the recently baptized.
The Toones are the parents of 5 children and have 16 grandchildren who are all (as they say) way above average! Elder and Sister Toone are serving a 6 month mission because they can take off during the winter while the ground is too frozen to plant and serve. What an example!
We welcome this outstanding couple to the Mission!
Show Low Arizona is a long way from everywhere! That’s why people go there. It’s the “go-to” place for beating the summer Phoenix heat, but in the winter, the summer crowds of tourists are gone and the 15,000 residents are pretty much left to themselves (at 6,300 feet in elevation, it gets its fair share of winter weather!).
The Church has a large presence there – 2 growing stakes with dynamic Bishops and Stake Presidents for both. And, it has an over-sized contingent of missionaries! Between the 2 stakes, the Mission has 20 missionaries and 2 senior couples. Four of those missionaries are Sisters – living in a single apartment – working with 4 wards.
That brings us to transfers. The transfer process is a spiritual process. Explaining it is as difficult as describing what salt tastes like. But this much is clear – the Lord has a plan for each missionary who serves and He gives detailed revelation on who is to go where, and who their companion should be. When the transfer board is done, there is a “settled” feeling about it. As if a great masterpiece finally is done – at least for the night.
And so it was that 4 Sisters, from 4 different parts of the world ended up in Show Low. All different, but all united in sharing the gospel. Japan, Tahiti, Florida and Montana – so diverse, yet so unified.
“For it shall come to pass in that day, 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…” (D&C 90:11)
It’s a modern-day miracle!
[Shared with permission]
“I had a cool healing miracle this week too. I felt terrible the other day. I was super nauseous and I had a super gross cough and a ginormous headache. I thought it was just something I ate and the weather change and would pass quickly.
Well, it didn’t. I finally asked the Elders for a blessing. Elder O’Brien anointed me with oil and said the prayer. Then the Elders gathered around me and Elder Finlayson placed his hands on my head and before he even said my name, before he said anything, I felt the nausea, the headache, and the scratchy throat leave. I had never experienced that before.
After the blessing I felt completely healthy. I wasn’t weak or tired. Before that experience, I knew what the priesthood was [but since] I didn’t grow up with the priesthood so it was hard for me to understand it. Now I understand what it can do and why it’s important. I kind of had the mindset that I didn’t need the priesthood around all the time but since I’ve been on my mission, I realize that the priesthood is so important to have around. If we didn’t have the restored priesthood, I’d probably still be sick!”