September 22, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
This has been a remarkable week. Late last Thursday evening (September 15) we received a call from President Stucki and he asked if we could meet with him in his office on Saturday morning. As soon as I had ended the cell phone call, I turned to mom and said that he would probably need us to work in the office until the new office couple would arrive in December. On Saturday that thought was confirmed. We are now in a crunch time trying to learn all of the ‘ins and outs’ of the office so that there won’t be glitch when the Swenson’s leave on October 5.
This is a new experience to us. We never dreamed that we would be working in a mission office but it will be a fun challenge for us and will keep us on our toes. The drive back and forth each day for this past week has been less than enjoyable. There is a new proselyting couple that will arrive next week on September 28. We will orient them next week and then bring them out to the Naic area (our current area), move them into the apartment and give them a quick tour of their new area. It looks like we will be homeless for 5 or 6 days – we will stay at the mission home for those 5 or 6 days until the Swenson’s leave - and then we will be living at the Mission office apartment until sometime around the middle of December. The new office couple will arrive on December 11. After we train that couple we will be off to the island of Palawan around Christmas time. Palawan has 2 districts and President Stucki would like us to work in the Nara District to strengthen the priesthood brethren in that area.
We thought about all of the different areas of where we will have worked during our time in the mission and we figure that we will have covered most every aspect of what a senior missionary could do here. Now, if we could just master the language in a reasonable manner. We have been so blessed with such a wide variety of experiences in our mission.
We have only been in Naic for a short time. It is hard for us to see if we have made any difference here but it won’t be for lack of trying. We have had some wonderful experiences that we could only have experienced here. We are grateful for these tender mercies that our Father in Heaven has provided for us. We will miss the wonderful people in this area but we will still be able to come back on Sundays for a few more weeks in order to complete our Temple Preparation classes. We look forward to going to the Temple with these members when we finish the classes. We were able to ‘hand-carry’ the request to the Area Office on Tuesday to request that they find another larger meetinghouse to accommodate the Maragondon Branch. That was received well and hopefully they will be able to find a place for them to meet until a proper chapel can be constructed for them. We will continue to work on their request to build them a new chapel. We both have the feeling that is the specific reason we came here for such a short time – to help them with their building process. In these few short weeks, we were able to help with Family History training, clerk training, Branch Presidency training and Temple Preparation classes. We have been busy but were not able to visit as many less active members as we wanted to and to teach them and invite them to come back into the fold.
Saturday evening we visited with the Elder’s Quorum President in his home. The faith of these members never ceases to amaze us. We always like to begin by asking the members about their family and then ask them to tell us about how they found the Church. His story is fun and remarkable. His sister introduced him to the church but she had a stroke and passed away unexpectedly. As a single young man, he took his sister’s children into his home and raised them. The missionaries would come to teach them and he would sneak out the back door. I asked him how the missionaries finally ‘caught’ him to teach him. “Well’, he said, “they went around to the back door and I had to stay.” We all had a good laugh and then one of his niece’s told us that since he joined the Church he has never been inactive and he always had family prayer, scripture study and Family Home Evening with them. He never married because he had to work to support his sister’s children (we didn’t dare ask about their father and why he didn’t support them). But, he sacrificed to send one of the kids on a mission and the children continue to live with him now and help him run his business. He owns a junk shop and a small tindahan (variety store). We were amazed at his devotion and love for the family. One of girls now serves as the Relief Society President.
We were able to share a message with them and the spirit was very powerful. I then asked him which members of his Elder’s Quorum that he was worried about. The expression on his face was priceless – I then asked him if we could help him as the Elder’s Quorum President by visiting and teaching these people about the gospel and helping them return to activity. I then turned to the Relief Society President and asked which members of the Relief Society she was worried about and asked if we could assist her to help these sisters come back into activity. This was a remarkable experience because it required him to use his priesthood keys and her to use the delegated office of her presidency to determine who they felt needed help. I love this approach because it teaches the leaders to understand that it is their responsibility to watch over these members and that the Lord will inspire them to know who needs help. In Priesthood meeting on Sunday morning the Elder’s Quorum President announced that I would be teaching next week’s priesthood lesson. He looked at me, smiled and winked – he trusts us because we worked with him and not around him.
We also had a wonderful coordination meeting with the District President and the Zone Leaders on Saturday. The Zone leaders began by telling the District President what they wanted the Branch Presidents to do to fellowship and assist with their missionary work. The meeting was not going in a ‘good direction’ so I kind of ‘stepped in’ and turned the discussion around. Please, you will need to forgive me but I don’t want this to sound like I am boasting – but really, it wasn’t me speaking but the Spirit was guiding us (I look back on this experience and see that the Lord needed us to accomplish a lot in the short period of time we would be here in this area – so He was making sure it would be done). Well, I told the President that the Zone had 20 scheduled baptisms for September and then had the Zone leaders project how many baptisms would likely occur by the end of December (they said 90). That is incredible! I thanked the President for his support of the missionaries and told him how grateful we were for the sacrifices he makes in his busy life and that we knew the branch presidents were also very busy. We didn’t want to be a burden to them but we wanted to be a blessing to the District and the Branches. So then I asked the District President what we as missionaries could do to help ensure that these new converts were not lost and forgotten in their branches and what we could do to help him and the branch presidents. He was hesitant to respond at first but as we discussed more, he then opened up to us and told us specific things he would like the missionaries to do for the Branches. That was incredible also! Some of the things he mentioned made the Zone Leaders somewhat uncomfortable because they took it ‘personally’ but as we spoke more about these things a peaceful spirit came over the room. We had ‘broken the ice’ and formed a valuable relationship with the District President. Again, that was incredible! We were able to do that in such a short time period – now if we can get all the missionaries to do what he asked us we will have accomplished a great task that will bless the work for a long time to come (it was very difficult to tell the District President that we were being reassigned in two weeks – ouch!). We have been so very blessed in this area.
Mom was asked to teach the Relief Society lesson on Sunday about the Gathering of Israel. She was nervous about it but she did great. We practiced teaching me a few times during the week. The sisters really love mom. It was a good thing that they can understand English and there are a couple of sisters that can interpret for her. This Sunday we are speaking at a Young Single Adult Fireside about dating and date etiquette. That should be really interesting, don’t you think? It has only been 36 years since we dated as singles.
Well, we are doing great. Hope that this letter finds you healthy and happy. We are looking forward to our new challenges although we are not totally thrilled about moving again and then again in 2 more months, but that is okay. We will do whatever the Lord would like us to do and we will try our best to accomplish His will. We love you all. Thank you for your love and support. We trust that all is well with each of you. How are the kids doing in school? We hope that they are enjoying their school work. Please take care of yourselves and write when you have time. Remember to BE good, DO good and BE men and women of Christ.
Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Janene and Grant