Sunday, October 25, 2015

WEEK ENDING 10/25/2015
Another eventful week of missionary service has drawn to an end.  This evening our hearts are full as we conclude the Sabbath day.  We took children from the Shivwits Reservation to Church this afternoon.  When we took them home after Church there was a large gathering of family at their home.  The parents, grandparents and the children all called out, “Thank you Elder and Sister Elkington.”  And they mean it!  I really believe the biggest factor contributing to their love for us are the cookies, pies and cakes that Sister Elkington bakes for them and takes to each of our appointments.   I told her we had no idea when we accepted our mission call that it would involve so much baking and cooking.  Her labor of love in our kitchen has opened many doors for the Gospel to be taught.
We continue to be amazed at the spiritual experiences of the Native American people. Nine year old Katelynn (one of the children we take to Church) wrote the following in a tablet she uses to take notes at Church:
“Today I am at Church and I am learning about Church.  You have to come to Church to learn about God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Last Sunday I had my mind on God and Jesus Christ and I had a vision of Jesus Christ and God.  In it, He was helping poor people that can’t see and He made people clean and see again.  I told the Primary lady (teacher) that I saw a vision of God and Jesus Christ.  She said, “Do you want to tell everybody in the class?” I said, “Yes”.  And I told everybody and they thought it was true.  I said, “You can make a vision too, and I am so happy that I made a vision.  I hope you make a vision too.   Please make a good vision about God and Jesus Christ.  I hope I can have another good vision and that I can tell everyone.”
This evening we called on a young couple we have taught a few lessons.  They have cancelled our appointments the past few weeks, so we were grateful to meet again.  We talked of the Atonement and showed the Church youth video entitled “Reclaimed”.  We bore testimony of the truthfulness of the atonement and they opened up to tell us of some difficult challenges they are dealing with.  They said they were telling us because they felt our love and knew we would not judge them.  Our hearts are full that they feel our love and trust us.  He said he would like a blessing to help him deal with his challenges.  We have an appointment to give him a blessing next week.
The stake president and branch president have asked us to call on all the less active members in the Heritage Park Branch.  We have had some uplifting experiences where it is obvious the members have missed their association with the Church.  But, we have also called on some who don’t want to visit with us and want to continue as they are – receiving no contact from the Church.
We gain strength and motivation as we see the Spirit work in people’s lives.  We love our work!

Monday, October 19, 2015


We have taken children from the Shivwits Reservation to Church meetings on Sundays and to Heritage Park Branch family home evenings at Anasazi Valley for three weeks now.  On the way to the family home evening on Monday, the children started singing “Follow the Prophet”.  They knew the words to the song.  I asked where they learned this song and they replied, “In Primary”.  It has taken a very little time for these children to be influenced by Primary.
We give them tablets to draw and write in while they are at Church.  They leave the tablets with us so we can bring them each week.  We were glancing through the tablets and note two of them had written comments about loving God and Jesus and about how much they enjoy being at Church.  It seems children have a natural tendency to be spiritually sensitive. 
Ethan is about ready to be interviewed for baptism.  He has completed the lessons.  Each week when we go with Elder Duncan and Elder Isakson to teach him, there are several siblings and cousins who join in. Last week after the lesson (which was taught outside under the mulberry tree in the front yard), Ethan’s 10 year old brother, Shaden,  took a stick and drew some images in the dirt as he asked about the relationship of the Holy Ghost to God, the Father.  Elder Duncan, who was sitting next to him, took a stick and drew images in the dirt to illustrate the answer to the question.  We were amazed at the understanding of Shaden and at the depth of his question.  We also were very impressed with the love and skill of Elder Duncan as he answered the question. I could not help but think of the analogy of the Savior drawing in the dirt as He responded to people.
These Native American people are very close to the Spirit and many, including children, tell us of spiritual experiences they have had – many of the experiences were while they were on the reservation in Arizona.
We have been worried about what would happen to Ethan after we are gone and not available to take the children to Church.  We have fervently prayed about this issue.  The prayers appear to be having an impact.  The children’s grandmother and grandfather have been sitting in on the lessons and are very supportive. Also, Ethan’s mother has come to Church services the past two weeks. Another example of how the adults are led or influenced by the children!
Five of these children we take to Church have been asked to participate in the upcoming Primary Sacrament Meeting program.  They are so eager and happy for this opportunity!
Sister Elkington asked the children what food they wanted her to prepare and take to the potluck family home evening last week.  They requested pumpkin pies!  Sister Elkington spent P-day making six pumpkin pies.  (On 10/19 the request is for spaghetti.)  On the way home from the family home evening, Katelyn said she had eaten 5 pieces of pie.  Some of the others had eaten 2 pieces.
Last night as we left the house to go to a meeting, Sister Elkington (Bev) was feeling quite emotional.  With tears in her eyes, she asked how she could feel such a deep feeling of love for these children.  We decided it is God’s love for His children that He is manifesting through us. It is not just that we want them to enjoy the blessings of the Gospel in their lives.  We also want them to succeed in school and in their chosen vocations!  They have goals and aspirations just like other children. Without someone to encourage them and help them with their school homework they are destined to miss many opportunities that their bright minds could lead them into.  We see many of the older teens slip into a state of hopelessness.  Oh, we pray we can help these younger ones achieve fulfillment and joy as they mature!
As you can tell, we love the young missionaries we labor with. We love the Native American people -  especially the children.  And we love serving the Lord as missionaries!  I am reminded of a statement of President Spencer W. Kimball.  He said something like, “God hears and answers our prayers.  Many times it is through another person that our prayers are answered.”  May we live worthy and be ready and able to follow inspiration that will enable us to be the answer to some of those prayers!
Elder and Sister Elkington

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Elder and Sister Elkington – Oct 11, 2015
Over 44 years ago I was ordained and set apart as a bishop.  As I drove home after that ordination and setting apart, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of love for each of the ward members – even those I did not know.  I came to realize that love I felt came with the mantle of bishop. – It was God’s love manifest through his servant the bishop!  Fast forward to 2015 and Sister Elkington and I feel God’s love for the Native American people.  It must come with the mantle of a missionary, if there is such a thing!  All we know is that we feel an overwhelming love for the Native Americans we have come to know.
We are privileged to work closely with Elders Duncan and Isakson – two of the finest missionaries we have met.  We go with them as they teach and we witness their effectiveness as teachers – they teach clearly and with the Spirit!  Sister Elkington always brings cupcakes or cookies.  I won’t say that is why the investigators look forward to our visits.  But when we go to the reservation with the elders we seem to have more children awaiting our visit each time. Last time there were three cousins visiting and they asked if we would come to their home sometime.  We assured them we would come to their home.
The children asked if we would take them to Church meetings and to the Heritage Park Branch Family Home Evenings held at Anasazi Valley.  We have taken them to both.  And more want to go each time.  We took five children to Church today and were thrilled to see the mother of some of them came to Church and brought another child.  “And the children shall teach them…”
One of the children being taught, Ethan, has committed to a baptismal date of November 7, 2015.  He has a great spirit about him.  In another family, a child, Kiza, is being taught and wants to be baptized.  Her mother and siblings were reserved or absent at first, but recently have joined the teaching sessions and willingly participate.
One family with great potential have missed or canceled their appointments the last two weeks.  We pray for the Spirit to touch their hearts to bring them to embrace the Gospel that they may experience the blessings that come with that action.
We know Our Father in Heaven loves all his children.  And we know we are where God wants us to be, doing what He wants us to be doing! We love our mission!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Oct 4,2015
The second entry for this week.  One of the reasons we have felt we were in a recovery mode for part of the week is because we hosted the district meeting in our home on Wednesday.  A week ago Wednesday at the conclusion of our weekly district meeting, the district leader, Elder Duncan, asked if everyone liked pancakes.  The missionaries in the district (2 elders, 4 sisters and 2 couples - total of 10 missionaries) said they did.  So, Elder Duncan said he would bring pancakes to the next meeting.  After the meeting, we asked if Elder Duncan would like us to bring paper plates - he said yes.  As we left the meeting we got to thinking that you cannot cook food in the Church building kitchens - and no one likes cold pancakes (except perhaps young elders).  So we called the elders and offered to have the meeting at our home where a hot breakfast could be prepared.  Well;, one thing led to another and before you knew it we had to clean the whole house for company, set a beautiful table for 10, cook sausages, cook waffles, buy and cut up fruit and make a fruit dip...Anyway, after the meeting we told the other missionaries to go and do missionary work and we spent the day doing dishes and cleaning up.  The missionaries expressed appreciation and loved our home.  We were gratified to do something for them -but we used all our energy.  It was worth it!  They are super missionaries!
One of the Sister missionaries is from Italy and one is from Germany.  They were so appreciative of the beautiful set table they took pictures of it before we sat down.  We asked if they wanted everyone to sit before they took pictures, but they said no. They just wanted a picture of the table and food - not the missionaries!

Elder and Sister Elkington –Oct 4, 2015
Our love for the Native Americans continues to grow.  We noticed, as we read the Book of Mormon with Ethan – a nine year old Native American, that he held his copy of the Book of Mormon very close to his face.  He did a good job sounding out difficult words, but it appeared he is quite near sighted.  On Tuesday we talked to the Principal of Red Mountain Elementary School and told her of our concerns about Ethan’s eyesight.  She thanked us for bringing this to her attention and said she would have the school nurse test his eyesight.  She said they have a program to not only test eyesight, but to provide glasses to needy students without charging for them.  It was obvious the principal loves the students in her school and knows each of them.  She thanked us for being concerned and helping her students.
We tool Ethan and three of his cousins to the Heritage Park Branch Family Home Evening at Anasazi Valley on Monday evening.  They thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  They paid attention to the lesson that was given and helped themselves to a large plate of food that was provided (It is a potluck event). They asked if they could come again next Monday.
There are many people and resources available to help these children develop and become self-reliant adults, but they need someone who cares and coordinates the different resources for them.  That appears to be one of our jobs.  This we willingly do with love!
Several appointments were cancelled/postponed this week.  We expect some of these will take place next week.  This weekend we viewed the sessions of General Conference and thrilled with other Church members at the sustaining of three new apostles who were called by the Lord.  Each Conference seems to be more inspirational than the last! 
We know we are where the Lord wants us to be – doing what the Lord wants us to be doing!  And we thank Him for the opportunity to convey His love to the Native Americans and other less-active members!