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!

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