Sunday, April 24, 2016

WEEK ENDING 4/24/2016
This week has been about service, doctor visits, and recovery.  Monday was taken by a dental appointment followed by cooking for Branch Family Home Evening.  We took Sister “M’s” grandchildren to family home evening.
We took “T”  to his last anger management class at the Purgatory Correctional Facility.  Then we took him to dinner and talked about using his patriarchal blessing.
The rest of the week was consumed by 3 doctors appointments and a St George multi Zone Conference.  The conference was informative and inspirational.  But Sister Elkington found she has been pushing too hard and not leaving time to recover from the fall she had. She could not sit through all of the conference. She is doing worse that she was right after the fall.  We have been involved in several hours of service at the Heritage Park Garden, but decided Sister Elkington needed to stay down and try to recover.  It is very difficult for her to stay down when there is so much she can see to do. The key to her recovery seems to be not overdoing anything - Work, then rest. Elder Elkington had an ingrown toenail removed, which laid him up for a while.  It seems like a nursing home around here.
We took 2 of the boys from the Reservation to scouting activities Wednesday evening  The meeting started a half hour late, which is normal, but frustrating.  The boys seemed to enjoy themselves. We are trying to get them involved in more than just Sunday meetings.
Today we taught the Gospel Principles class in the Heritage Park Branch (as we do each week).  We also took six children from the Reservation to Church.  “V” is anxious to get baptized and that will probably take place next month

Sunday, April 17, 2016

WEEK ENDING 4/17/2016

Heritage Park Branch family home evenings now dominate our Mondays.  We took much of Monday preparing a pizza casserole to serve 30 people.  Then Elder Elkington took 4 of the boys from the Shivwits Reservation to work in the Branch Garden before Family Home Evening and Sister Elkington came later with 4 girls from the reservation and the casserole. We can see the changes in the children as they participate with the branch members.
Recognizing the need to integrate the children into the Branch, we committed the 4 boys, ages 9-11 to attend scouting meeting on Wednesday. We then found that scouting activity this week was going to be singing with the Branch choir. We were concerned that the first scout experience be positive.  So, when we picked them up, we asked if they would like to sing with the choir. They said,”No”.  So we took them to McDonalds for a cheese burger and fries.  It was a great experience as the boys opened up to us about their feelings and concerns.  Sister Elkington asked them where they wanted to go on their mission.  “V”, an unbaptized nine year old, said he wants to go to Thailand on his mission. (Elder Saedan, who just finished his mission, is from Thailand.)  “V’s” attitude is really changing – he now seems delighted to see us.
Tuesday brought another trip to the Purgatory Correctional Facility to take “T” to his anger management class and to dinner afterward at ChuckArama.  We were thrilled to have him tell us he had obtained a temple recommend and participated in baptisms for the dead.  But, he was anxious because an officiator at the temple had asked if he was going to serve a mission and why not.  Then he was asked if he would bless the sacrament in sacrament meeting.  While these were legitimate questions, they created anxiety. He does not feel ready for these opportunities yet.  He did , however, receive his patriarchal blessing today.  We took him to his appointment with the patriarch, Bother Atwood, after Church meetings.
We had a great district meeting on Thursday.  The district leaders had asked if we would bring fresh strawberries and whipped cream to the meeting.  They had planned a meeting that ended with a waffle breakfast.  They are good young missionaries and leaders.
Friday we met with Sister “M’s: grandchildren for a lesson with the elders.  After a short lesson, “V” (The unbaptized 9 year old), said, “Aren’t we going to have more lesson – can we at least read from the Book of Mormon”? This is from the boy who used to look for excuses to leave the room during lessons. He now seems desirous of baptism.  But, because of his previous behavior, his grandmother now says he has to prove his readiness for baptism by attending Church of a few months. This family has come a long ways since we first met them –those who had been baptized had forgotten most of what they had known about the Church and the Book of Mormon. Now, the mother of some of the children and the grandfather, have brought the children to Church on several occasions and the children and adults participate in the lessons.
Saturday, Sister Elkington gave another sewing lesson to Katelynn, a girl from the Reservation.  She is very bright.  She remembered the things she had been taught previously.  So Sister Elkington let her take her sewing machine home with her after the lesson and a lunch.  She was very excited at receiving the sewing machine.
The activities of this week are amazing, considering the fact that Sister Elkington had a bad fall on Tuesday.  She received bruises all down the outside of her leg.  The black and blue area is about 10 inches long.  She also strained/sprained many muscles.  It was a miracle that no bones were broken.  And it was a miracle that she was able to participate in all the activities this week. Even though Our Father in Heaven did not prevent the accident, He did prevent bones from breaking.  We see His protective hand in many things we experience.
In retrospect, Sister Elkington should have taken a few days of rest to recover from the effects of the fall. But, there are those depending on us to fulfill our calling!  And we are blessed when we serve.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

10APRIL 2016
Elder and Sister Elkington
When “T” was released from Purgatory Correctional Facility (Washington County Jail) a couple of months ago, we told him we would be part of his support team  We told him that meant he could call anytime he needed us.  Monday morning (our “P” day) we were at the gym exercising when “T” called and asked if we could take him to meet with his probation officer out at Purgatory.  I asked when his appointment was and his response was, “Now”.  We immediately left the gym and went to take him to his appointment.  We also took him to his weekly anger management class on Tuesday, followed by a dinner with members of our family (Nicole and her sons Jake and Ryan).  We are very involved making sure “T” has all the support he needs to maintain the commitments he has made. So far – so good!
We have been very involved with the family of Sister “M” in gardening in the Heritage Park Branch Garden.  We also took five of the children to Chuckarama Restaurant because they have attended Church five times within the past two months. We offered that incentive to get the children in the habit of attending Church.  It has enabled us to get close to them.  We told them about our family and especially about our grandchildren.  Then we told them they are like family to us.
 On Saturday Sister Elkington gave a sewing lesson to one of Sister “M’s” granddaughters. (We also made French toast for her since she had not had breakfast).   A friend (hair dresser) heard of Sister Elkington giving sewing lessons to this girl and gave us a new sewing machine for her.  One more lesson and she will know enough to take the sewing machine home with her.
We also got a phone call during the week from a friend in Layton who has family in St George.  Her son is very ill and she asked if Elder Elkington would give him a blessing.  We met the family and visited with them for an hour before giving the blessing.  They have a very positive outlook even though he has been chronically ill for a couple of years.  His lymph system has an unexplained leak and he has to have the excess fluid pumped from his abdomen each week (8 to 14 liters). They have a son serving a mission and they have a very positive outlook on life.  We felt the blessing would be fulfilled.
All of this with 2 dental appointments and one doctor appointment made this a busy week.  The promise is “…they shall run and not be weary.”  I feel we are running, but I am afraid we do get tired – does that count?  Oh it is “walk and not be weary and run and not faint” – at least we haven’t fainted!
We do feel God’s love for us and for our family, as well as for the people we serve.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

3 April 2016
Elder and Sister Elkington
The Heritage Park Branch Home evenings at Anasazi Valley started again this week.  Members (and us) are invited to work in the garden for a couple of hours and then have a lesson and pot luck dinner.  This gives us a great opportunity to take the children from the Shivwits Reservation to work with us in the garden and share a great fellowshipping experience with other members of the branch. The wind blew and it rained – but we just moved into the “Long House” for shelter and enjoyed the meal and lesson.  We provided chicken fajitas (using about 4 pounds of chicken) made by a granddaughter, Natalie Whipple, who visited last weekend.
We also continued in our efforts to distribute clothing donated to us by our daughter Nicole and her neighbor.  We took some to a family with three girls who were so excited to receive them.  What a blessing these clothes have been to these Native American children.
We took “T” to his anger management class at the Purgatory Correctional Facility and then took him to Deseret Industries to meet the branch president, Chuck Saling, and to shop for some Church clothes. He has completed over 2 months of clean living following release from jail.  He says he has no desire to return to his prior life style. We rejoice with him over the Lord’s blessings in his life.
We continue to work with Sister “M’s” family in the garden and find it provides a great opportunity to teach gardening and Gospel Principles. We also taught a lesson to the family on the importance of the atonement in their lives.
We invited Sister “M’s” grandchildren to come to our home for a pizza party and to watch the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference.  Five of them came.  We offered an incentive if they would take notes so they could later tell us what the speakers talked about.  After the session, we asked them to tell us what one of the speakers said. Three of them referred to what Elder Neil Andersen said about families.  They noted he said many children do not live in “picture perfect families with a father and a mother”.  Ethan’s notes include the following:
“He said they pray for us.”
“Some children live with one parent.”
“Some kids don’t see their parents.”
“Some kids think they are alone.”
“The kid said, ‘I am a child of God.’”
It is obvious these children related to what Elder Andersen said.
We were lifted up by what we heard in Conference and what the Spirit taught us as we listened to the speakers.   We have come to appreciate Elder Bednar’s instructions to us in the Mission Conference he attended.  He said write what the Spirit teaches you while the speaker talks –it may not be the same as what the speaker says. This was especially evident to me when President Uchtdorf spoke Sunday morning.  He spoke on the parable of the Lost  Sheep and how it illustrates the love of Our Father in Heaven for His Children.
While he spoke, the spirit taught me that the lost sheep probably does not know it is lost.  In fact all of us, to some degree, are lost sheep.  When we remove ourselves from the watchful care of the shepherd (Our Heavenly Father, Our Savior, and his chosen leaders), we are lost!  The lost sheep in the parable probably thinks it has found greener pastures – if it is concerned at all about being lost, it probably thinks it is the shepherd and the other sheep that are lost. Each of us should continually pray and study the scriptures that we might know if we are on the path that leads us back to God’s presence.  If we are not on that path we are lost!  But as President Uctdorf taught, Our Father in Heaven never writes us off – He is continually reaching out to His “lost” children. We pray for each member of our family and for those we are called to serve.  May each of them be drawn into the safety of the fold, we pray.
We love and miss family and friends, but we are so grateful to have been called on this mission - where we observe miracles wrought by the love of God for His children!