Elder and Sister Elkington Missionary Epistle
Week Ending 9/25/16
Last weekend the children from the reservation that we have been teaching went camping at Mount Trumbo. The camp was sponsored by a Native American organization. They were taught about their native Paiute traditions and language. On Monday, the 10 year old girl we have been taking to church and family home evening talked in FHE about the experience and recited the Paiute alphabet and talked about the language. It was good to see the pride she felt to be a Paiute. It is good for children/people to feel pride in who they are. So many times they are ridiculed because they are not part of the majority (whatever it is.)
Wednesday evening we took eight children from the Shivwits Reservation to The Heritage Park Branch president’s home to be fitted for Native American regalia to wear in the Santa Clara parade on Saturday. It was fun to see the excitement the children felt as they found Native American attire to wear. After the fitting, Sister Elkington drove the car with five of the children and Elder Elkington drove the truck with 3 boys (there were too many to fit in one vehicle). He drove the boys to a Cub Scout pack meeting that was held at Anasazi Valley. They had a campfire and made “smores”. After the event ended, Elder Elkington drove the boys home to the reservation. On the way one of the boys opened up to Elder Elkington and asked a number of questions. He asked how long a mission is. I responded it was for two years for a young man and 18 months for Sisters. I also told him about my first mission to the Eastern States Mission from 1957 to 1959. I told him he could be called to serve anyplace in the world – in another country or in another state. It was obvious he has been thinking about Sister Elkington’s challenge to prepare to serve a mission.
He also asked if I dated girls and if I had a girlfriend when I was young. He also asked how I met Sister Elkington and if I asked her to go on a date. He wanted to know where we would go on dates. I answered honestly and then talked about the value of pursuing education after high school. I also told two of them they are talented athletes, but that they will not be able to be on high school sports teams unless they keep good grades. He asked if that meant he had to get straight “A” s. I told him he probably would need to have over a “C” average. I told them they could take classes at Dixie Applied Technology College while they were still going to high school. I explained that they could make a lot more money if they went to advanced schooling to learn a skill or a trade.
When we arrived at their home, they said, “See you on Sunday”. (One of them has resisted going to church sometimes). I really felt we made a breakthrough in our relationship. They do not have fathers in their lives and I think they miss that relationship.
This week we continued with the elders to teach Melvin. He obviously understood much of the basic Gospel and was excited to be ready for baptism. We spent a lot of time with him – giving him rides to the doctor, having him come to our home to work outside with Elder Elkington. While they were working, Elder Elkington was able to teach him some of the requirements of Church membership and baptism. He asked if he could ride with us as we ran errands because “he felt better while with us than while sitting alone at home.”
While we were at the Shivwits Reservation we met a young man who has just been released from the Purgatory Correctional Facility (jail). He was open in talking to us and it was apparent he has no place to stay. When we got home, Sister Elkington said, “We can’t just leave him out there with nothing to eat.” So, we put together a lunch and took it back to him. It was obvious he really appreciated the food plus a bottle of water.
Saturday we took the children from the reservation to be in the Swiss Days parade. The Heritage Park Branch had put together a really nice float that the children rode on. Everyone on the float was dressed in Native American regalia. As the float passed, one little boy turned to his mother and said, “Mom, I really like Indians.”
Then Saturday afternoon, Melvin was baptized by Elder Elkington – normally the baptisms are performed by the young elders, but Melvin requested Elder Elkington perform the ordinance. He willingly did so. We have great hopes for Melvin receiving the priesthood and being a blessing to his family. It would mean a lot if he is able to baptize them and give them blessings. He is an exceptional Native American man. He attended college at SUU and is well spoken.
A nice surprise at Church was the attendance of a young girl we had helped teach a year ago. She had wanted to be baptized then, but her mother said she had to wait. Her mother brought her to Church – the mother left after sacrament meeting, but the girl stayed for all three meetings, and she still wants to be baptized! She also wants to come to our home for a cooking lesson by Sister Elkington – making pumpkin pies.
Between preparing food for the homeless, feeding the missionaries twice, feeding the homeless and providing refreshments for the baptismal service, Sister (and Elder) Elkington was exhausted by the time Saturday evening arrived. Melvin was confirmed today and now, as the cake at his baptism said, “Welcome into the Kingdom of God, Melvin”. Now our calling is to make sure he is supported in his efforts to integrate himself into the Church.
It’s hard to recover your energy when you start Sunday with a meeting with the Stake Presidency at 7:00AM and then have an 11:00 AM meeting with the Heritage Park Council, followed by giving rides to Church for children on the reservation and capped with a sacrament meeting where Melvin was confirmed a member of the Church. (Also, treats had to be prepared for the children attending Church). What is this about Sunday being a day of rest?