Sunday, August 30, 2015

Missionaries Have Gone High Tech

We attended another zone conference this week in Cedar City.  This conference was for all of the Live-at-Home couples in the mission.  The emphasis of the conference was to teach us how to use the Ipad for teaching and reporting.  Before the conference, we felt we preferred to use the printed pamphlets for teaching.  But presentations at the conference convinced us we will be more effective teaching with Ipads. (Note the plural of Ipads).  We have determined we need to purchase another Ipad so we can both be using an Ipad during teaching.

After the zone conference we traveled to SLC so Larry could go to a follow up appointment at the Moran Eye Center at the University Hospital on Wednesday.  (Everything was positive).  We returned to the Mission on Thursday and prepared for talks in the Heritage Park Branch sacrament meeting.  We also met with an investigator and made arrangements to teach her next week.  We also began teaching the Gospel Principles Sunday School Class today.  We had one couple in the class.  They are a hard working couple who have four children and they are preparing to go to the temple.  It is obvious they are loving parents.

We understand why the mission presidency prefer couples not leave the mission for other activities.  Going to SLC this week really took us out of missionary work for most of the week.  We are looking forward to burying ourselves in the work this coming week. We love the missionary work and we love the people.

We were promised when we were set apart as missionaries that members of our family would receive blessings they otherwise would not have received.  We feel we are seeing examples of these promised blessings.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday, August 23
It seems the mission meetings never end!  But they are sooo inspirational!  We had a 6 hour zone conference on Thursday - it involved a lot of training about missionary work.  Much of the training was provided by young elders and sisters. There was also training on use of automated tools being used by the missionaries. (Each missionary is provided an Ipad and the Church has developed tools for the Ipad to assist in teaching and record keeping.)  I think this mission may be a pilot test on this before it goes world wide. As senior missionaries, we have to provide our own Ipad.  But we can use the same tools as the other missionaries.

The elders in our district referred us to a Navajo woman who wants to meet with the missionaries.  Her husband is working out of town, so she does not want to be taught by the elders.  She has agreed to have us teach her.  We taught her a lesson on Saturday and had a very good visit.  She wants to continue meeting with us.  We asked her to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it.  We told her she is facing one of the most, if not the most, important decisions of her life.  And she needs the Holy Ghost to let her know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the Gospel.  She works on Sundays and is unable to attend Church.  But she is very sincere and we believe she will eventually be baptized.  She has 4 children - two of them eight years or older.  She lives in a nice neighborhood in St. George.  She is a graduate of Dixie High School in St George.  Her mother died about 3-4 years ago.  She said her mother told her if she ever felt alone to call the Mormon missionaries.  This is what led to her call.

We also met several other Paiute members on the reservation. Many of them live in very humble circustances (10-12 people in a small house 2 or 3 bedrooms). Also,a Navajo man came to our Gospel Essentials SS class this morning.  He was the only one in the class - which was good because he just needed someone to talk to about family and health problems. The native American people we have met are very open in their conversations - they do not put forth a facade - they tell it like it is. We listened and then with the assistance of a bishop's counselor, Larry gave him a blessing.  It is gratifying to feel we are tools in the Lord's hands in helping lift the burdens others carry.
We love this work!
We pray the Lord's blessings be upon our family and friends!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Heritage Park (Native American) Branch

I am new at blogging and notice I posted the same update twice under different titles. Sorry.
 It appears much of our time will be spent working with native Americans who attend or who will attend Church services in the Heritage Park Branch.  This is a branch for native Americans.  It also includes family members of native Americans.
Last Sunday, Aug 9, 2015, we attended church services in the Heritage Park Branch.  We met the branch president, and had a good discussion with him on how we can assist him.  We told him we knew he held the keys for proclaiming the gospel for his branch and that we want him to regard us as resources he can use to bless the people.  He is a very dedicated, capable leader and has served over eight years as branch president.  (He was serving while Larry was serving as a bishop in the Gunlock Ward. They sat together in the Bishops Council of the Ivins Stake).
We were impressed by the spirit emanating from the members of the Heritage Park Branch.  They were friendly and reached out to us with a feeling of love and acceptance. Among the speakers in Sacrament Meeting were three young women who appeared to be between 10 and 15 years of age.  They were so well prepared and gave their remarks with confidence.  We found later that they had prepared their own talks.  They were some of the most outstanding Church youth talks we have heard.
Monday we went to a Heritage Park Branch family home evening held at Anasazi Valley where the Branch President has constructed a village of replicas of native American houses.  The site is intended to instill within the native Americans an appreciation for their heritage.  The structures were replicas of lodging for a number of different American Indian tribes.  They include teepees, hogan, long house.... There was a sense of reverence or sacredness in the area.  We ate a potluck dinner with the members and one of them gave a spiritual family home evening lesson.  The branch president said she was very shy and withdrawn when she was baptized, but you would never know it now!  She taught with confidence, reading from the scriptures "as one having authority". 
During the week we called on a recent convert who does not yet hold the priesthood.  He is shy and reluctant to accept the responsibility of the priesthood.  However, he agree to consider preparing himself to be ready to receive the priesthood so his son can ordain him when his son returns from a mission (In about 5 weeks).  We sense a wholesomeness and lack of living a facade among the native American members.  We love these people and we know God loves them!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - The Lords Army

We have just attended a zone conference of missionaries serving in the Saint George, Utah area.  We are so impressed with the spirit of these young people.  Oh, there are senior  missionaries too.  But, it is the enthusiasm and commitment of the young men and women that is so impressive.  They are taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone who will receive it/them.  The love they feel for those they teach is very apparent.  The meeting was 3 hours long and consisted mainly of training by two young elders who serve as zone leaders and two young sisters who serve as zone trainers.  They did an exceptional job!  They will be prepared to be leaders in the Church after their missions.
We have a new appreciation for the manual entitled "Preach my Gospel".  It is the source of training on how to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It would be a great manual for those preparing to serve a mission.  But is also a great manual to learn the Gospel and to learn how to be receptive to the Spirit of the Lord.
We love our mission - we feel God's love for those we are called to serve and those who labor with us.
We also love our family and pray for each of them each day.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Our hearts are full and have been since yesterday when we were privileged to receive instructions from one of Our Lord's chosen apostles, Elder David Bednar.  He taught us for over three hours without a break - it was marvelous!  His remarks were directed towards the young missionaries of the Utah St George Mission, But the senior missionaries were permitted to be in the meeting.  Elder Bednar counseled the missionaries to not take notes while he was teaching them.  He said that is like writing on the "large plates" (writing facts).  Instead he said we should write on the "small plates" (things made known to us by the Holy Ghost - the whisperings of the spirit.) Therefore what follows may not be exactly what Elder Bednar said, but it is what we learned from the meeting.

We are not objects - we are agents.  We should acknowledge and respect that difference.  Therefore we should be aware of things we can and should do for the Lord and not expect Him to do everything.  We should not pray to the Lord to bless those not in attendance at a Church meeting that they will "be here next week" and then wait for the Lord to bring them.  Rather, we should act like agents and call on those people and invite them to come to the next meeting.  We spend to much time asking God to bless those in need while we do nothing about it.

We misunderstand the term "agency"  in the Church.  It does not mean we have a choice to choose between right and wrong at every decision in life. It means we have a choice of whether to accept God's plan and be baptized into His Church, or we can reject it.  But, once we have chosen to be baptized, we make covenants with the Lord to keep His commandments.  That means we have promised Our Father in Heaven what our actions will be in the future - we have promised to obey and keep His commandments.

It is very important to read the Book of Mormon on a regular basis. Members who apostatize do so because they have quit reading the Book of Mormon and they lose the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  Elder Bednar said he has never known a member who reads the Book of Mormon on a regular basis who has fallen away from the Church.  Some, even among those who have served a mission, have fallen away from the Church - but not those who read the Book of Mormon regularly!

The purpose of our mission is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."  We accomplish this purpose by loving people, teaching them and testifying of the truthfulness of the gospel, the reality of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer, and that the gospel has been restored in its fulness.

You can change the behavior of people more by teaching them the principles of the gospel than by talking about the need to change the behavior.

When we were baptized and confirmed we were given the gift of the Holy Ghost.  It will be with us as long as we are keeping God's commandments and are engaged in wholesome activities.  If we are engaged in unwholesome activities, the Holy Ghost withdraws from us - we get past feelings.  If that happens, we should stop doing what we are doing that caused the Holy Ghost to withdraw.  We know that inside of us!

This is but a small part of what we learned by the spirit while Elder Bednar taught.

God loves all of His children - that includes me and you!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Missionary Training Center Experience

This blog has been established to document the mission of Larry and Bev Elkington.  They were called to serve in the Utah St George Mission assigned to the Santa Clara Utah Stake. Bev and Larry were set apart as missionaries on July 28, 2015 by President Daniel Frei of the Santa Clara Stake.  He pointed out to Larry that for the duration of his mission he would carry the title of "Elder".  This title is the same as that used by General Authorities of the Church.  They use that title for their life time, whereas I will use it only during my missionary service.  He said the title should be respected and honored.  He then told Bev she would carry the title of "Sister", which is a title indicating love and respect.  He suggested we use these titles even in our home calling each other Elder and Sister respectively.  We'll see how that goes - it doesn't sound too romantic to say "I love you Sister Elkington".  But more important than titles, he showed us in the Doctrine and Covenants that the Lord promised those called to serve missions that their families would be blessed because of their service.  Then when he set us apart and blessed us, he said our family would receive blessings they would not have received if we did not serve.  We believe this and that is part of our motivation to serve.  Nothing means more to us than our family.  We pray for them by name each day.

Larry and Bev entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah on August 3, 2015.  This post is by Larry Elkington.
We were housed in room 316 in Building 2M at the MTC.  The room was small but nice.  We had a queen sized bed, two chairs and a table plus a chest.  We were pleased with the accommodations.  We were part of about 135 Senior missionaries who entered the MTC on Aug 3rd.  This was more than they normally have in a group.  They said the last few groups have contained about 40-60 senior missionaries. It was exciting to hear other senior missionaries talk about where they are going.  We couldn't help but wonder what adventure we would have if we were going to some foreign country.  But then we thought how blessed we are to be able to serve the Lord while living in beautiful Santa Clara Utah in our lovely home in Kayenta.  Our family is within driving distance and our healthcare support system is nearby.  We said we would serve where needed and we feel our call was directed by the Lord.
The experience at the MTC was delightful.  Besides the senior missionaries, there were about 2200 young missionaries.  These young missionaries were very respectful and friendly.  They exuded the spirit of the Lord and enthusiasm.

The cafeteria offered several choices for each meal and you could take as much as you wanted.  The classes were taught in small groups and provided instruction on how to represent the Lord effectively.  The spirit was manifest regularly and confirmed to us the significance to the Lord  of Missionary work. 

We had originally thought we would return from the MTC to our Kaysville home and then drive to our home in Kayenta on Saturday.  But we received a phone call informing us to return to St George immediately after we left the MTC on Friday because there was a scheduled Mission Conference on Saturday morning with Elder Bednar of the Council of Twelve Apostles.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Called to Serve

This is the missionary blog of Larry and Bev Elkington, called to serve in the St. George, Utah, mission. We are excited to share our mission experiences here with you!