Sunday, December 27, 2015

Weekly Report – Dec 27, 2015
Elder and Sister Elkington
HO, HO , Ho!  If we sound like Santa Claus, it is because we have been delivering Christmas gifts for Native American children all week.  The Heritage Park Branch is the central contact for agencies that provide Sub for Santa gifts to Native Americans in Washington County.  The branch president and his wife organized the gifts and put them in bags for the children.  They asked us to assist in delivering these bags to the parents of these children.  We willingly agreed to helping in this effort because it introduces us to many people we had not met before.  It also got us in doors we could not otherwise get into.  The challenge came in finding the people home so we could deliver the gifts.  We did not have good phone numbers, so we had to keep calling back until we found someone home.  But the responses made it all worth it.
Some family and friends donated money to help provide a meaningful Christmas to those who otherwise would go without.  (The sub for Santa gifts were restricted to children age eleven and younger.)  We called on one sister who lives in a mobile home with eight children.  It was after 8:00 PM on Dec 23rd and we thought she might not answer the door because of the darkness and fear of who would be calling.  But she immediately answered our knock and had a big smile on her face as if she had been expecting us.  We handed her an envelope containing a Christmas card and $200.  We wished her a Merry Christmas and said, “This is not from us. It is from people who love you and care about you.”  Those people who gave us the money to bless people’s lives did a great thing!
Sis M who lives in the little home with ten grandchildren and four other adults, came to our home Christmas eve with her daughter to pick up their sub for Santa gifts.  We had a great visit and she thanked us for what we are doing for her family.  On Christmas day we went to her home so the children could show us what they had received for Christmas.  They were very excited to show us their gifts.  Then eleven year old K gave us each a “Square Pants sponge Bob” toy and said she wanted to share with us.  We were overwhelmed that she had had so little, but wanted to share her gifts with us.  The last thing we need is two “Square pants Sponge Bob” dolls.  But we recognized we needed to accept the gifts to show we respected and valued her.  Those two dolls are prominently displayed in our living room.  We provided a Christmas Eve dinner for this family.  We thought we would provide something nice – they wanted pizza.  So we took pizza and a white angel food cake with one candle.  We explained it was a tradition in our family to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Eve.  I think they will remember this Christmas for the rest of their lives – I know we will!
We also gave a gift of $250 to a couple in the Branch who are raising several of the wife’s siblings because the parents are both deceased.  Such people need to know others care and appreciate what they are doing.
We love representing the Lord in doing His work!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Weekly Mission Report of Elder and Sister Elkington- - 20 Dec 2015
Last week we reported that Sister M’s grandchildren were sleeping on the floor and got cold at night.  Monday the Heritage Park Branch president, Pr. Saling, gave us a Bishop’s Order to the Deseret Industries for blankets and pillows for the children.  We took the order and picked out a quilt or blanket for each child.  We then wrapped a pillow, in a pillow case, with a quilt and tied them in a bundle with a bright ribbon and bow.  We put a tag on each bundle with  a child’s name on it. We have never seen children so excited about a gift as these children were about their blanket and pillow.
Sis M had no furniture in her living room, so the children had to sit on the floor to be taught by the missionaries.  Sis Elkington felt a strong impression that we should go to the Habitat for Humanity store, so we went.  There we found a leather couch and four side chairs that had been in a hotel.  They were in like new condition.  We purchased these and took them to Sis. M.  The missionaries and the children now have a place to sit while lessons are being taught.  We are grateful to a couple in Gunlock who gave us $200 to use for someone in need.  Sis M and her family are very grateful for the assistance.  We are helping the Branch President and his wife deliver gifts from “Toys for Tots”.  I told Sis M that we had a bag of gifts for each of the grandchildren living in her home and that they were substantial enough she would not need to buy them anything else.  She teared up and said she did not have any money to buy anyone gifts.
To top the week off we got a Bishop’s Order to the DI and took two mothers and seven children to the DI where they got Church and casual clothing.  They were thrilled to get attractive clothing that is not worn out.  These people have never asked for anything, but they are very grateful for what we’ve done for them.
Delivering the “Toys for Tots” gifts opened many doors and we have several homes yet to which we need to deliver gifts.  The biggest challenge is that we don’t have phone numbers so we have to knock on doors.  Sometimes it takes several trips to find someone home who will open the door.
Some have said they did not apply for “sub for Santa” gifts.  We explain that the Heritage Park Branch turned their names in if they had records of the children.   One non-member father wanted to know more about us because of the gifts.  He was very friendly.  We had Elder Isakson and Elder Stafford help with the deliveries so the people on the reservation would get to know them better.
This morning the one mother called to say her family would not be to Church because of a party on the ShivWit Reservation.  Sis Elkington expressed regret she would not be there to meet some of our family who are visiting.  The mother said maybe she could come to meet the family.  It is obvious she loves us and appreciates what we have done for her family.
We still love the mission and the people.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Weekly Report – Elder and Sister Elkington    12/13/2015
Last week we jumped to the conclusion that the mother on the Shivwits Reservation who had promised to bring the children to Church had not followed through.  It is true that we did not see them at Church, but it was because she had gotten the time wrong and had showed up at Church 45 minutes early.  There was no one at Church that early so they decided there was no church for some reason and had gone home.  We feel bad we had judged her intentions in error.  To make amends, we baked her a cake and took her a note this week, thanking her for what she is doing for the children – hers and her nieces and nephews.  We told her she is a blessing in their lives and she will be remembered and thanked by these children throughout their lives.  She told us she would bring them to Church this week.  We said we would drop by in case there were more than she could get in her car.  When we got, there we found one of her sisters had taken the car so they all needed a ride.  We took her and six children to Church.  If this keeps up we will need a bus instead of just an SUV!  This family lives in very humble circumstances.  There are grandparents, three mothers and ten children in a small three bedroom, one bathroom house.  The children sleep on the wood floor with a worn blanket.  There are two pillows shared by all of the children.  We have talked with the branch president to see if he can help.  One of the boys got out of the car today and said, (“Thank you for all you do for us.”)  They set an example of showing gratitude that we could all follow. We are talking with Santa Claus to see what can be done for these children at Christmas!
We met with the elders for a second lesson with a family that has three unbaptized children.  They were excited to see us.  Maybe that excitement was partly due to the strawberry cupcakes Sister Elkington had baked for them.  (The previous week she had asked what their favorite treats were.  One boy said strawberry cupcakes – I think he may have talked with a cousin to whom we had taken strawberry cupcakes.)  The father sits in on the lessons, so he is getting a refresher course in the Gospel.  These are such delightful children – and they are excited to study the Gospel!
Once again, I say, we love the Native American people we serve.  We pray for them and give our all!
We love this mission!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Weekly Report of Elder and Sister Elkington - December 6, 2015
This week has brought the highs and the disappointments of missionary work.  We have been visiting (or trying to visit) a less active member who has an unbaptized nine year old son. Each time we would go to her home she would not answer the door or would indicate she couldn't see us then.  We had decided she must be antagonistic towards the Church.  But then we told her a Native American artist was opening an exhibit of his artwork at the Sears Art Gallery at Dixie State University.  She said the artist was her uncle and she was excited to go to the opening of the exhibit.  Her car is non-operative so she couldn't drive.  We asked her to go with us and she readily accepted.  We took her and her cousin to the exhibit and she now regards us as friends.  The attitude has changed completely.  She now asks our opinion on health issues with her son.  And she seems friendly towards the Church!  We can now fellowship her son so he will want to be taught by the elders.
The disappointment came today when the children from the Shivwit Reservation did not come to Church.  The mother told us on Friday not to come and get the children because she would give them a ride - they didn't show up.  This is the first time they have missed Church in the last couple of months. We will need to talk to the mother and grandmother about either giving them a ride or arranging a ride.

Yesterday we spent half a day watching (supporting) one of the reservation children representing her school in a county basketball shoot out. The benches were very hard but the young girl and her grandmother were thankful for our support.

One of our missionaries, Elder Duncan, was transferred to Cedar City last week.  It's hard to see them go - they become like family!  He will be a leader in this mission.
We love our mission, the missionaries we labor with and the people we serve!
This truly is the Lord's work!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Elder and Sister Elkington
We spent most of this week helping prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner to 95 people in Draper, Utah. This was in response to a commitment made several years ago.  While it was fulfilling in many ways, we really missed the missionary experience.  We were very glad to get back to missionary service and the Native Americans we have come to love.  We found the missionary spirit is only present when we are doing the missionary work.  We are grateful to be back doing what we love!
One positive thing happened as a result of our being gone over a Sunday.  We were unable to take the Native American children on the reservation to Church services.  We asked their mother to take them to Church in our absence and stressed the importance of them attending.  She stepped up and took them to Church.  We were thrilled and now have hope they can stay active when we are no longer available to take them.  We have been concerned about how these children could stay active after our mission ends and we are no longer available to  take them to Church.  It’s great to see their mother getting active.
Yesterday was the birthday of Katelynn, one of the reservation children.  Sister Elkington baked her a birthday cake.  Her family was very grateful.  I believe the baking of Sister Elkington has opened more doors and built more trust than any other activity we have done.
One family lost their 24 year old son last month.  We have called on them several times expressing our love and support – and taking banana bread and cookies.  The father and mother have really opened up as they relate their grieving experiences.  The father said he had kneeled by his deceased son’s bed and prayed for comfort.  Sometimes tragedy opens the door to change and activation.  Whether it happens or not, we will be there to offer love and support.
We are grateful to be part of God’s army of missionaries.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekly Report 15 November 2015
Elder and Sister Elkington
This is the first week since we started our mission that the Heritage Park Branch did not hold a family home evening.  They have stopped them for the season and will restart them about mid-February.  They provided a great opportunity for us to bring investigators and less active members in a non-threatening environment.  But it will free up a lot of time that was spent cooking/baking dishes to take to family home evenings.
Sister Elkington was ill the first part of the week – probably a bug she picked up last week in a teaching meeting on the reservation.  Some of the children were not feeling well.  Sister Elkington got a cold/flu that led to a sinus infection which was treated with antibiotic.  By the end of the week we were able to call on a few less active members.  Then on Saturday we held a pizza and home-made ice cream party at our home for 8 of the children from the reservation with two of their mothers.  We had promised the party to them a few weeks ago.  We used the party to talk to them about how to achieve success in their lives.  We told them they are very intelligent and stressed the importance of doing their school work and keeping God’s commandments.
Elder Elkington showed them a picture of the ramshackle ranch house he lived in as a child.  It had no running water, no electricity, no gas or central heating. He pointed out that they live in a nicer home than he lived in as a child.  He discussed the importance of attending Church meetings and paying their tithing.  He told them how his life was changed by paying his tithing and serving a Church mission, which led to his going to college and getting a good job.  He told them they can do the same thing.  
We want so much to help these children get and enjoy the blessings that come from embracing and living the Gospel.  Keeping the commandments is very important.  But we also want them to lift themselves from the environment they live in.  They deserve a chance to develop and use their minds to enable them to have challenging careers that will bring them financial freedom.
Sister Elkington is back to about 90% and we are looking forward to the new week.  We love our mission and the people we have been called to serve!