Sunday, June 29, 2014

June 29, 2014

   The upper picture is of Elders Holly and Zilles practicing teaching the Restoration discussion.  They are trying to get it done in 7 minutes.  The reason for this is to be able to teach those that only have a few minutes and let them learn enough to feel the Spirit and accept an invitation to learn more.  They are  great Elders and we love them so much.
   The next picture is us with President and Sister Stoker and Elder and Sister Pettingill.  We went out for dinner and then ice cream. We were celebrating our 1 yr. anniversary in the mission.  It is to good to have us all get together.  Especially President and Sister Stoker.  They work so hard and they have very little time to relax.  We love them so much and appreciate all they do.  They are so awesome.

   This picture is of myself with Elders Kunz, Harper, and Pettingill.  On Wednesday we loaded up the trailer with furniture.  Elders Sowby and Warner helped me load it and Elder Kunz and Harper helped unload. 
   We are opening two new areas in Portland ME for French speaking missionaries.  It is so exciting to see the work with the immigrants from Africa have such a desire to learn more of the Gospel.  They all speak French.  It is so wonderful to see the work grow.
   The bottom picture is of Elders Sowby and Warner and Sisters Morgan and Collins with Miriam.  She fixed the most wonderful Sunday dinner and we all had a wonderful time.  We love the missionaries so much.  They are so special to us. 
   We have had another wonderful week.  The weather is the best and we are loving it here in New England.  We have been preparing for transfers all week. Our new missionaries come in tomorrow and the returning missionaries go home Wednesday.  It is an exciting time.
   Our testimony continues to grow as we work in the Lords vineyard.  It has been a wonderful Sabbath.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June 22, 2014

As you can see from the pictures,  the weather has been just wonderful.  We took Friday afternoon off and met Elder and Sister Osborne and Elder and Sister Harman in Woodstock Vermont.  Myself, Elder Harman, Elder Pettingill, and Elder Osborne played a round of golf while our wives went sight seeing.  The top picture is the longest covered bridge in New England.  It spans the Connecticut river.  The picture of Miriam and Sister Pettingill shows the beauty of the country.  We had a wonderful day ending with a great dinner.  It is fun to associate with the other senior missionaries on a casual basis. 
President and Sister Stoker have been gone all week.  They had interviews everyday except Monday in the Maine Zones.  They stayed up in Bangor Maine to speak today at one of the Wards and they will get home this evening sometime.  They work so hard and we love them so much.
   I got some wonderful news this week concerning my health.  My previous cancer diagnosis requires me to have a biopsy on my stomach every six months.  Last winter when I went through all the testing it came back with a question as to whether I had some cancer cells starting to grow.  This was very concerning and they wanted to do all the testing again.  However, my stomach was too raw to take another sample for the biopsy.  I had to wait 8 to 10 weeks for my stomach to heal enough before another sample could be taken. 
   So we told our children not to make any plans to come out until we had the results of the next tests.  We went about our work, having faith that whatever the Lord wanted for us would be ok.  We never wanted to worry anyone in our mission so we decided to wait for the new test results before we said anything. 
   Well, that past few weeks the new test results started coming in and they were very good.  This past Wednesday, my Oncologist gave me the all clear.  And even better, he stated that every test was excellent and that I was the high point or the best diagnosis he was able to give that day.  Needless to say Miriam and I were elated.
   We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for the blessing of health and the ability to continue our mission.   I was the recipient of blessings of so many prayers.  I know all of our family fasted and prayed for me.  I was told that our Aubry wasn't having breakfast one morning and her dad asked her if she was ok.  She said she was and that she wanted to fast again for Grandpa.  Needless to say, Grif and Brittny marveled at her faith.  I know this is just one story of all the families concern for me.  I love them all so much.
   Miriam and I love the Lord and love the opportunity we are having to serve Him as missionaries.  Our testimonies grow each and everyday as we work with all of these wonderful young missionaries.  They are an inspiration to us.  Some struggle, some don't, and we love them all the same.  The work isn't easy but it sure is worth it.  The Gospel is True!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15, 2014

   Miriam and I had a wonderful week.  Last Thursday we inspected the apartments in the Bangor West Zone.  We traveled about 500 miles.  The apartments have improved 100%.  We have trained and trained on the importance of living in conditions that you would bring the Savior.  We have worked hard to improve the apartments themselves and to help our wonderful missionaries keep them clean and neat.  It has improved so much and we appreciate their work.
   Upper left with Elders Roberts and Platt.  Upper right Elders Plyler and Buchanan.  Lower left is Sister Welling and Bickel.  Lower right is Sisters Kotter and Frame.  We did others but don't have their pictures.  We love them so!

   Friday was also Miriam's birthday.  We got a fruit basket from Grif and Brittny.  It was for Fathers Day and Miriam's Birthday.  It was beautiful and delicious.  Elder and Sister Pettingill help us with the wonderful treat.
   Last Wednsday, we were asked by Sister Morgan and Sister Collins to assist them in teaching the Estes Family.  The father Ted is a member and his wife Traci is not.  They also have a 5 year old daughter Sylvia.  What a beautiful family.  We taught the restoration and Traci had lots of questions.  It was great.  They are going on vacation for a few weeks, but they did ask us to come back to teach them more.  I was able to bear my testimony of the gift of love and how families teach us love in such greater levels and maybe how the Savior loves each of us.  We sure enjoy teaching when the opportunity comes.
   Saturday we had a wonderful lunch at the JSM with all the senior missionaries.  We had BBQ chicken and brauts corn on the cob, and lots of salads. Pres. & Sis. Stoker got a birthday cake for Miriam and we all sang happy birthday to her. The food was good and the association with all the senior missionaries was even more precious.  We had a small program where I was coerced into telling my Badger story.  We then went to the top of Patriarch Hill in the John Deer.  It was so beautiful.  Then we took a drive to Northfield Falls.  There are 3 covered bridges and country side is absolutely beautiful.  We went with the Pettingills and we had a blast.  We always have fun with them.
   We are loving our mission so much.  I think we appreciate the beauty of New England more this summer after having went through such a long winter.  We love our missionaries and love working with them. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8, 2014

   Our mission is enjoying great success.  The weather has turned beautiful and it allows all of us to provide service to the community.  The Bedford and Manchester Wards organized a service project for the City of Manchester where we spent last Saturday morning painting the iron fence that surrounds their cemetery.  All of our Manchester missionaries were there and we had a great time.  Even President and Sister Stoker came.  That is President Stoker in the middle of the lower right picture.  I hope we got more paint on the fence than we did on us.
  Then on Saturday afternoon, Miriam and I decided we would drive to Gloucester MA.  We had heard it was beautiful down there.  It was the best day.  The weather was beautiful.  The beaches were magnificent and the Mexican food we got was wonderful.  We had a grand day.
    We had the most interesting week.  Lots of joys with some sadness.  We had another missionary go home for medical reasons.  It is always sad when that happens.  We also, for the first time saw President Stoker have to send home a couple of missionaries for disobedient problems.  We could see the toll this took on President and Sister Stoker.  They work so hard to do everything they can to help all the missionaries complete their missions. 
   We can see that we are getting many more Sisters than Elders coming to the mission.  In the July 1st transfer we are getting 4 French speaking Elders and 5 Sisters.  In the August 12th transfer we are getting 1 Elder and 8 Sisters.  It just keeps going like that.  Then from the August transfers on, we send more home than we have coming.  The surge is over.
   Now we are closing some areas and getting ready to close more.  We are not sure where the count will be.  I understand that before the surge there were approximately 130 missionaries in the mission.  At our peak we had 217.  I hope we don't go back down to 130. 
   But the work continues and it is wonderful.  I sat by Gene(our new convert) in church today and it is amazing what the Gospel does to ordinary people.  He is progressing so well.  He does splits with the missionaries 3 or 4 times a week.  He is so on fire!
   Our testimonies continue to grow.  We love our mission.  We love the Lord so much.  We thank him daily  for this opportunity we have to serve here.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1, 2014

The highlight for sure this week was the baptism of the McCullough sisters.  Heather, Sarah, and Hattie were baptized Saturday morning.  Their mother and step father are with them in the top picture.  We are all hoping they will follow them next month.  Kathleen McCullough, the mother, gave the opening prayer and it was so simple, loving, and sincere.  They are a loving family.  She and her boyfriend have set a date to marry and he is working hard on quitting smoking.  We are all praying that they will make it happen.
   The second picture is the sisters with Elder Walker and Aengus Rafferty, Hattie's boy friend.  Aengus introduced them to the gospel and invited them to see the missionaries.  I was fortunate to have been asked to assist Elder Walker and Elder Parry in that lesson.  We were so excited that when we got there, they were all sitting around the table and had a whole list of questions to ask us.  Teaching an entire family was the best.  It is rare in our mission.  They loved the gospel message and then the entire Ward got involved with the Elders in teaching them.  Miriam and I picked them up many Sundays for church.  We have really learned to love them.
   The picture to the right is of the sisters with Elder Walker and Elder Harrington.  In the last transfer Elder Parry was transferred out of Manchester and Elder Harrington replaced him.  The picture below is with myself, Elder Harrington and the sisters.  Elder Jensen is in the background.  It was a most beautiful morning.
  Elder Jensen was my companion all day Saturday.  President Stoker asked me to pick him up and the Mission Home at 8 am Saturday morning.  He then accompanied us to the baptism.  Afterwards he and I went to Dover NH, his old area, packed up his things to move him to Derry NH.  We had to move everything out of their apartment as we are closing the area.  We had the Exeter North Zone leaders help us. Elder Lund and Elder Chapman worked so hard to help Saturday afternoon.  After we got everything loaded, I took Elder Jensen and his stuff to Derry where he joined Elders Gilbert and Simmonds.  They will be in a threesome until other things can be arranged.  Elder Jensen was a great companion to have for a day.
   Elder Wiesenberg, Elder Jensen's companion went home after struggling with some medical problems for quite some time.  We sure wish him well.  We all hated to see him leave. It was sudden.
   We had MLT this week where all the leaders of our mission were trained by President and Sister Stoker and two previous mission presidents.  It was the largest MLT we have ever had.  We were not able to attend but the reports we got that it was wonderful.  We prepared their lunch and as always the missionaries know how to eat.
   Here it is June 1st.  The weather now is warm and beautiful.  It is so green.  It rains a lot but that is why it is so green.  But after the winter we have had, we love it.
   The Work is wonderful.  We have staff meeting every Monday morning where we got over the reports from all the Zones.  There are successes all the time along with many mission miracles.   The Gospel is so true.  Church today was wonderful also.  I am really learning to love the members here.  We have become such good friends with them.  We are having such a wonderful mission!