Sunday, December 25, 2016

Elder Larry and Sister Bev Elkington
Merry Christmas!  ‘Tis a wonderful time of the year – for missionaries and for most people!  We are blessed (?) to have 11 family members staying with us this weekend.  We are always happy to see family and friends.  Jeff and Leslie Smith and their family are here along with Greg and Stephen Smith and Greg’s daughter Shae.  Jeff’s family includes 3 year old Mila, who is the center of attention.  She is very bright and has the vocabulary of a 7 or 8 year old.  It is fun to experience Christmas through the eyes of a young child.
Missionary activity this week has been centered on helping the Heritage Park Branch President and his wife deliver Christmas gifts to the Native American children.  Kony Toys for Tots uses the Church organization to reach out to the Native Americans with young children.  The toys were of high quality and they were numerous – there were many gifts for each child!
Our goal has been to convey God’s love to those feeling lonely or downtrodden. One of the young men we have been working with, “T” called to ask if we could assist him in buying a sports bike for one of the young men on the Shivwits Reservation.  He was shopping at the Catholic Thrift store and found the sports bike in like-new condition. They were asking $20.00 for it.  He only had $10.00 and wanted us to provide the other $10.  We told him we were in a missionary teaching appointment and could not get there before the store closed.  He tried to get the store clerk to reduce the price to $15 and told her he was buying it for a young boy on the Reservation.  She said, “Why didn’t you tell me that – I’ll pay the difference.”  He then delivered the bike and a helmet to a young boy on the Shivwits Reservation.  He was so excited and felt so elated to have helped someone.  Just a week ago he had been given a car by 2 men who had heard of his plight. Now the receiver was able to experience the feeling of gratitude from one he had given to.  He could hardly wait to go tell his friends of the joy of giving!
That is the essence of the Gospel – being a grateful giver and receiver.
We are working with the young elders in teaching two people who have committed to be baptized in January.  To see people accept the Gospel is the greatest joy of all!
May each of you be blessed with peace this week and always!
Elder and Sister Elkington

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This week seemed about like when we were having family home evenings at Anasazi Valley and we had to prepare food every Monday.  We didn’t have a Branch Family Home Evening – but we did have a Heritage Park Branch Christmas dinner and party.  We spent part of the week delivering invitations to less active members and most of Saturday baking rolls for the dinner.  We also took the children from the Shivwits Reservation to practices for the Christmas program.  The program was a play written by one of the members.  Krystin and Ethan (from the Reservation) were cast as Mary and Joseph - they did a great job! On Saturday we made 3 round trips from our home to the Shivwits Reservation and the Church.
The dinner and program were a  great success. I don’t think they could have fit more people in the cultural hall.
On Wednesday we took Sister “M”s” granddaughters to the Visitor’s Center  by the St George Temple.  Two of the sister missionaries from the Utah St. George Mission (Sanchez and Avila) served as guides.  One of the girls we took was so impressed, she said, “Someday I want to serve a mission in the St George Temple Visitor’s Center”. We also took them to McDonald’s for hamburgers.  These girls have felt left out when we have taken the boys to scouting.  So we decided to give them a special evening out. It appears to have been a very successful fellowshipping activity.
This time of year seems to bring with it a lot of stress as we prepare for Christmas and try to carry Our Father in Heaven’s love to those we have been called to serve.  It seems there is more to do than we can work into our schedule.
On Friday we met with the elders and Sister “M’s” grandchildren and gave them a lesson on Christ’s gift to us – the atonement.  It caused me to think of the great gifts that were given – God gave us the gift of His Only Begotten Son, knowing he would be crucified, and Jesus gave His life to atone for our sins and enable us to return to Our Father in Heaven.  Our sacrifices and gifts pale in comparison!
One of those at the Branch Christmas Party was Kiza, a girl we had helped teach a year ago.  When we saw her at the party, Sister Elkington asked her if she didn’t want to be baptized,  She said, "Yes, but I can't remember some of the things I was taught."  So we have scheduled a meeting with Elders Perkins and Clark to review the lessons so she can be baptized.  She called this morning and asked if we could give her a ride to church.  We gladly did – she is an outstanding young girl! We look forward to her baptism.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Elder and Sister Elkington
Week ending December 10, 2016
Greetings from two very blessed servants of our Father in Heaven.  We love our mission to the Native Americans.  We feel God’s love for these people each day.  And He remembers and blesses them.  Often He directs our efforts to bring an answer to their prayers.
One young Native American,”T”,  has been in the homeless shelter for 3 months.  Recently he got a job and was able to save enough money to rent a home in a remote area over 20 miles from St George. The problem was that he had no transportation to get to his work. We have been helping him, so we agreed to pick him up at his home each day and take him to work.  At 11:00 PM we reversed the process.  This amounted to about 75 miles a day plus the loss of sleep. We knew our health could not endure this schedule for a prolonged time, but he had no one else to help.  We told him we could not continue this arrangement 6 days a week any longer.  We told him we would have to cut back to giving rides 2 days a week and he would have to find someone else to help.   He prayed for help and we prayed doors would be opened to solve his transportation problem. Last Monday he received a car given to him by an RV dealership. The owners had heard of his plight and generously donated the car. It was inspected and registered in his name and all the fees had been paid. These men provided the answer to his (and our) prayers!  He has now been able to add a second seasonal job to help with expenses.
We could relate many other experiences where we have observed God’s love for these people.  Many of them have very little in the way of earthly possessions. But they are very grateful for what they have and they willingly share with others.  We have no need to seek for worthy charities to donate to –the needs are all around us.
The Heritage Park Branch President gave us some forms to fill out if we encounter families in need as we visit.  In essence, he has called Sister Elkingon to be an Assistant Relief Society President. This week we assisted two needy families receive food from the Bishop’s Storehouse.  The gratitude felt by these families brought tears to our eyes. In the one case, we had to pick up and deliver the supplies.  In the other case the family has been providing food to two homeless people from their meager pantry.
We think of ourselves as young (well, maybe middle aged) missionaries.  But the other day a young adult man we have been assisting called someone on the phone and we overheard him say, “An elderly missionary couple” had been helping him.  We hadn’t thought of ourselves in those terms!  But – we could use the energy we had when we were younger!
On Saturday we were invited to a less active member’s wedding.  Then he invited us to his company Christmas dinner and party that evening.  It was a great experience to hear of the many needy causes he supports and he has a profit sharing plan with his employees.  It was very obvious he loves them and they love him.  There are many good people who do not attend church on Sunday – but they follow the Savior’s admonition to “Love one another”.
We are so grateful, at this time of year, to acknowledge Our Savior, whose birth we celebrate.  He was born the Son of God. He died for us and He has been resurrected. We testify He lives and knows and loves each of us!  And we love to serve Him!  Many of the acts of compassion and kindness done by others is an answer to someone’s prayer.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

What a week!  We started the week offering “T” a ride to work and back a couple of days this week.  But – he works each day – not just a couple of days.  We are determined to see him succeed at his job – so we took him to work every day.  Since he had to be to work at 4:00PM most days, that was not a problem – but, he finished work between 10 and 11 PM!  That meant picking him up from his job and driving him back home to the top of Utah Hill. The round trip from our home to his work and then to his home and back is about 72 miles.  We’ve gone thru a lot of gas –which is okay.  But, getting to bed after midnight has taken its toll on us.  The bright side is, it’s a beautiful ride during the daylight – but the twisting road is not beautiful in the middle of the night.  We did see a deer run across the road and gracefully leap over the fence.
The ride to work and back has given us a lot of time to talk to “T” about the impact he can have on the youth of the Heritage Park Branch and the prospective elders who are about his age.  He seems to be excited about the possibilities.  He also had us drive him to different public agencies that offer assistance.  We were impressed at the help that is available.  However, they do not provide a car.  The Branch President said he would give “T” a car.  We are excited for that to happen so we can get out of the midnight taxi business.
There are many young adults in the Branch who were regular attenders in their youth – who now are single parents and not active in the Church.  The Branch President would like us to reach out to these members and see if we can get them back to church.  We have accepted this challenge and pray the Lord will bless us in our efforts. When Church members transgress God’s commandments they often do not feel comfortable coming to church – it drives a wedge between them and the Church, which leads to even more problems in their life.  They are cut off from the fellowship of the other members who would provide them love and support.  The Adversary is very clever in driving a wedge between us and Our Father in Heaven!
Today Shaden, one of the children we have been teaching from the Shivwits Reservation, received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a Deacon.  I was asked to perform the ordinance.  What joy to see him grow in the Gospel and willingly accept the responsibility of the priesthood to serve His Father in Heaven, his family and the other members!
We are anticipating getting back to a normal missionary schedule.  But, with the Christmas season here, we know we will be busy trying to assist in bringing light and gifts into the homes of the Native Americans.  The greatest gift they can receive is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want each of them to know they have a Father in Heaven who knows them and loves them – and that we love them!

Family - please don't try to rescue us.  We love what we are doing.  All we need is a little more sleep!