Sunday, February 28, 2016

28 FEBRUARY 2016
Sister Elkington’s dental appointment on Monday slowed us down a little this week.  She went to the dentist for what we thought was going to be a root canal.  Part way through the root canal the dentist determined the tooth was too fragile to survive and so he pulled the tooth.  The trauma of the tooth extraction limited our activity for part of the week.
On Tuesday we did manage to give a ride to the young man recently released from the Purgatory Correctional Facility.  We took him to Purgatory for an anger management class.  Then we bought him a meal and took him to his evening 12-step session.  Sister Elkington loaned him a book she has been reading on the last week of Our Savior’s life – including an extensive explanation of the atonement.
Sunday he spoke in Church about his childhood and youth and the terrible environment he was raised in.  He also told of how his experience being in jail and taking an institute class changed his life.  He came to understand the atonement and was able to forgive himself for some of the pain and suffering he caused others.  He said he used to live “on the dark side” and now he chooses to live in the light.

We went to the Church Distribution Center and purchased a video entitled “How Rare A Possession – The Book of Mormon”.  When we met with Sister M’s grandchildren on Friday, an eleven year boy asked, “How do we know the Book of Mormon is true?  What if is just a bunch of lies?”  Sister Elkington then responded that he could know for himself by reading it and praying to know if it was true.  We then showed the family the video we had purchased.  It contains an account of a man who found a copy of the Book of Mormon that was missing its cover and cover page.  He read it without knowing where it came from.  He followed Moroni’s promise that if he would pray about it he would know of its truthfulness. He gained a testimony of its truthfulness and spent much of his life searching for the origin of the Book of Mormon so he could be baptized.  This young man was touched by the spirit and agreed to attend Church.  His grandmother, Sister M, also agreed to attend Church.  They came to Church as they had promised and the grandmother committed to continue attending.  This greatly increases the probability of the grandchildren staying active in the Church.
Sister M has had a brown blanket tacked to her wall as a window covering.  We found and purchased a new window shade at the Habitat for Humanity Store. The Heritage Park Branch president installed the shade.  Then he led a service project to paint the front room and hallway.  The difference in the appearance of the home, inside and outside is unbelievable!  And the family is so appreciative!
We have started a garden with Sister M’s family.  It is part of the Heritage Park Branch garden and will require we work together with Sister M’s family each week in planting and caring for the garden.  We see this as a way to teach life skills while interacting with the family in a productive way.
We do love the Native American people we have been called to serve.  And we know God lives and directs His Church through a living prophet. He has manifested that truth to us.  We have witnessed that true happiness comes from following God’s commandments!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

21 February 2016
Report of Elder & Sister Elkingon
On Monday, Sister Elkington gave a sewing lesson to one of the girls (10 years old) from the Shivwits Reservation.  The girl’s mother just died last month and we have been searching for ways to buoy her up.  The girl learned to use a sewing machine and made a kitchen gift towel.  She absorbed the sewing lesson plus the love and the gospel that came with the lesson.  She is looking forward to more lessons.
When we visited last week with the young man recently released from Purgatory (Washington County Jail) we told him we would do all we could to help him.  We said we would provide rides to compulsory classes or counseling sessions.  He thanked us and said he would call a day in advance if he needed a ride.  On Tuesday, he called at about 2:00 PM and asked for a ride to an Anger Management class at Purgatory that started at 3:00 PM.  We dropped what we were doing and took him to his class, bought him his lunch and then to a 12-step session afterward.  When he was put in jail, they took his driver’s license.  When he was released from jail on probation, he was told he needs to pay restitution and fines.  He was also told he needs to attend regular classes and counselling sessions that are several miles away – all without a driver’s license or money.  He also needs to be employed.  He has a great attitude, but he certainly needs a support group to help him meet the obligations of his probation.  We are here to ensure that he has necessary transportation.  That probably means we will be making weekly trips to Purgatory for a while. Today he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a priest.  We expect he will be ready to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood within a few months.
We also called on a man on the Reservation who we visited the prior week. He said how much his wife likes the baked goods Sister Elkington has left at their home.  We returned and left him a video to watch with his family – and naturally, we left a banana/pineapple cake Sister Elkington baked.  We cannot force anyone to change – but we can love them!
The children from the Reservation did not attend Church today.  Their father came to visit and since they have not seen him for many months, they wanted to stay home with him.  But some long-time friends from Layton, Mike and Mabel Pavitch, came to visit and attended Church with us.  It was good to see them. 
Tomorrow Sister Elkington is looking forward to a visit to the dentist - she really is looking forward to it!  We hope he can do something to relieve the sensitivity and pain.
We still love our mission!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

14 February 2016 Report
We have both been feeling better this week and as a result, we have been calling on people.  We always pray the Lord will direct us to call on people He has prepared for the Gospel message.  This week has been a great example of how the Lord has directed us.
Tuesday we called at the home of a young man who has just been released from the Purgatory Correctional Facility (Jail).  He was not there, but his grandmother, with whom he lives, visited with us about him.  She said he was not home – he was at a mandatory meeting on anger management.  We left our calling card and a plate of brownies.  While we were in the neighborhood, we stopped at Costco.  While there, we received a phone call from the young man and he said he wanted to talk to us.  We went back to the home and had a great visit.  He said he had been a gang member and a drug user in his youth (he appears to be in his 20’s).  While he was in jail there were two Church service missionaries that taught the prisoners about Christ’s atonement, repentance, and forgiveness.  He was motivated to read the Book of Mormon and to change his life.  Whoever the missionaries at the jail were – they had a tremendous influence on this young man.  He said he used to be in something comparable to the Gadianton Robbers and the dark side of life.  He said he now wants to live on the light side of life.  We told him we would be on his support team and would do all we could to help him.  Elder Elkington then gave him a blessing.  When we left that home, we felt we had been with a very enthusiastic young missionary.  Our Father in Heaven must be very happy –a prodigal son has returned.
Wednesday we called on a man whose 24 year old son died in October from a drug overdose.  We had a friendly visit and then told him he needs to bring his family and come to Church.  We told him they need the Church in their lives and the Church needs them.  He said he knows that is true and that he and his wife need to set the example for their unbaptized 17 year old son.  We told him they could be sealed in the temple as a family in less  than a year, if they started preparing now.  We told him he could have his two deceased children sealed to them so they can be an eternal family.  With emotion he told us that when their young daughter died many years ago, he and his wife were walking outside the hospital (between the hospital and the temple) and heard their daughter’s voice say, “temple”.  We told him we would like to visit when the family can all be there so we can help them prepare for the temple.  We could feel God’s love as we joined in prayer.
Many of the families we contact have unbaptized children over age eight.  But the parents are members of the Church – they have just drifted away from activity.  It reminds me of a verse I learned when I served a mission about fifty years ago.
Twas a sheep, not a lamb,
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told.
A grown-up sheep that had gone astray
 From the ninety and nine in the fold.
Out on the hillside, out in the cold,
Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought.
And back to the flock, safe into the fold,
Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.
And why for the sheep should we earnestly long
And as earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger if they go wrong,
They will lead the lambs astray.
For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray;
When the sheep go wrong,
It will not be long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead,
For the sake of the lambs today;
If the sheep are lost,
What a terrible cost the lambs will have to pay
We see children who have not been taught the gospel and who have no reason to want to be baptized because they have not been taught that they have a Father in Heaven who loves them, and that they have a Savior who atoned for their sins if they would but accept him as their Savior and follow his commandments.  Then the parent will tell us,  ”I’m leaving it to the child to decide if they want to be baptized.”  Years ago, as a young bishop, I asked a less-active (inactive would be more accurate) father about his eight year old son being baptized. He said he was going to let his son make that decision.  I told him his son would want to be like his father if he was not taught the gospel.  The father looked at me and said, “Is that bad?”  I told him I could not answer that, he would have to.
We know God loves these Native American children and they do not have much of a chance staying active in the Church if their parents do not go to Church.  We see people we have fellowshipped,  attending Church – we pray they will retain the Spirit in their lives. (Today three children and a mother from the Reservation were at Church).  We know we will always remember and love them.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

7 February 2016
The theme for this week has been recovery from illness/injury.  The emergency room doctors were overly optimistic when they said Elder Elkington would be down for 3 days.  It has now been 9 days since the fall and Elder Elkington is still limited in his motion.  He is able to do some things, but he is still limited and dealing with pain.  Meanwhile, his caregiver, Sister Elkington got an infected tooth about the same time.  She went to the dentist on Monday, had some preliminary work done on the tooth and was put on an antibiotic.  Then On Tuesday, Elder Elkington went to the doctor as a follow up on his injury and was put on a physical therapy regimen.  These maladies put a damper on our activities this week. 
However, we did receive a text message that shows we are loved by at least some of those we serve.The branch president called on Sister M during the week and told her of Elder Elkington’s fall and injury.  She sent us a message expressing her concern and love.  It was a very touching message from one who does not express her feelings that much. Apparently, our love for her and her family is reciprocated.
This weekend has been Santa Clara Stake conference and we were thrilled to have the mother of 4 of the Reservation children (including Ethan, who was baptized in November) attend the Saturday evening and Sunday morning sessions.  She has been trying to change her life and include the Church in her life.  Her sister’s death seems to have intensified her desire to be active in the Church.  She requested and received a blessing to help her with the grief she is experiencing over the death of her sister.  Her children’s chances to remain active in the Church are greatly increased by her desire to be active.
We stopped at Deseret Book and the Church Distribution Center on Thursday and met a very impressive Church member who was just released from Federal Prison.  He served 7 ½ years and said he is grateful for the experience.  He said he read 1526 books while he was in prison and some of the Church books changed his life.  He said his family and the Church were not high on his priority list before prison, But that has changed completely now.  He proceeded to pull books off the shelves and tell us how each book had impacted him.  He had tears running down his cheeks as he spoke.  He said he should have been released 18 months ago, but a paper foul up prevented it.  During that 18 months he shared a book and his testimony with another inmate who has contacted him and told him he, his brother, and their sister and family are now active in the Church as a result of that experience. He expressed gratitude he had been given that additional time to have that experience.  He introduced us to his wife who had sent him all those books. 
Once again we have witnessed God’s love for his children who have not necessarily been following the straight and narrow path – He loves us wherever we are and wherever we’ve been!  We are grateful for the opportunity we have been given to serve Him!