Fruits of the Labor

Do you remember the family that answered our knock at their door on the very first day we went out tracting?  We had been out of the Missionary Training Center only four days when we decided to knock on a few doors.  That’s when we met this sweet family:  Ahna and Malia Lafaele.   (They also have two young boys and a brand new baby girl.)


It took us a little while to get together and begin teaching, but what a rewarding effort it has been.  They met the commitment to read the Book of Mormon and pray daily, and as a result, the seed of their testimonies grew.  Brother Ahna was a non-member, and his wife, Malia, was an inactive member, but they worked together as a family to prepare for his baptism.  On December 12, 2015, Brother Ahna followed the example of Jesus Christ by entering the waters and being baptized by an Elder holding the priesthood authority of God.

They were joined by a room filled to overflowing with family, friends, ward members and the SPIRIT!  It was a wonderful thing for us to behold – the first baptism of our mission!   How pleasing to the  Lord that a choice son seeking to know the truth prayed, studied and came to understand the importance of being baptized by authority, to receive a remission of his sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. He and his family are being so blessed, and now they are looking forward to the day they can enter the Temple and be sealed eternally as a family, receiving their Patriarchal Blessings, of serving and growing  in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What a blessing for us to be a small part of this!  This fruit of our labors has brought us feelings of joy they will live with us for a long time.   And we are currently working with six investigators who are planning baptisms in January, 2016!   Stay tuned, we will tell you a bit about their stories at another time!

We love serving our Mission.  We can’t adequately express what it has meant to us thus far.  Our message is remarkable and simple and there is “No more compelling work than this, nor any which brings greater satisfaction” (Preach My Gospel, v).  Of this, we truly testify.  We have risen to a new sense of commitment as we assist our Father in Heaven in His glorious work.


“Our” Young Elders

At this time of year, we are so thankful for many, many things. Our families, our country, our testimonies of the restored Gospel, our Savior, Jesus Christ and the Atonement wrought for us, just to name a very, very few.  Serving our mission is something that we will look back on and be forever thankful for, along with all the associated blessings, from President and Sister Center, our much loved Stake President Anderson and Bishop Black, to the many choice friends and memories we have made in the mission field and the wards we’ve been assigned. And, that’s just to name a few!!


But this year, we want to recognize a blessing in our lives that will be unique to Thanksgiving 2015.  We could not have done what we’ve accomplished so far in the work without our Full-Time Elders.  Elder Shawen (L) from Maryland, and Elder Tolman (R) from California, have been with us through thick and thin, the sweet joys as well as a few disappointments.  You cannot spend as much time with someone as we have spent with these two fine young men and not love them with all your heart.  We’ve prayed together, fasted together, grown together, planned, prepared, driven all over, knocked on dozens and dozens of doors, and learned to rely on the spirit together as we have met with the people Heavenly Father has prepared to receive our message.  We have enjoyed watching them invite the spirit as they sing a beautiful hymn during a lesson, and had moments of laughter during the more than just a few meals we have shared!

So we want to acknowledge and thank our young Elders whom we love so much and could not do without!  Thank you, Elders Tolman and Shawen, for what you have taught us, for enhancing our mission more than you know, for your love and patience, and for the strong testimony you bear of the truthfulness of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We love you and will never forget you!!


A Zone Conference with David Archuleta, And Other Awesome Things!

We have had another wonderful week with uplifting experiences, very inspirational meetings, teaching and working with our investigators and less-active members, plus our volunteering in the community which we love so much!  We also took  the evening off Thursday to be in the Temple with much loved family to do work for ancestors gone before.

Pine Valley Chapel

Wednesday, we had a Senior Missionary Couple Conference at the historic chapel up in Pine Valley with President and Sister Center.  We trudged up in a snow storm with several inches of snow on the roads and felt the first chill of winter.  But once inside, we were quickly warmed by the spirit.  The theme of the Conference was Unity.  ” I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D & C 38:27).  The 5 principles of Unity are 1) To learn the doctrine 2) Eliminate contention 3) Forgive others 4) Watch over others and 5) Sacrifice for the Kingdom of God.   Being a Senior Missionary Couple is unique and the mission we are called to is unique.  The driving force in our work is the Savior.  The training we receive from President and Sister Center is wonderful!


Today (Friday) we had a Zone Conference with David Archuleta.  He sang his beautiful verson of “I Believe in Christ”.  Elder Fresh and I sat in awe of his spirit and talent. He recounted some experiences from his own mission in Chile. He learned through many hard lessons to trust in the Lord.  We asked ourselves, “Do we trust God?  Do we believe He will help us do things that we don’t think we can do?  By small and simple things, we can accomplish such great things!  He admonished us to “Never underestimate small and simple You.” When his grandmother was a much younger person, she awoke one night to the sounds of a heavenly choir above her singing “Come, Come Ye Saints”.  One day soon after, the Elders knocked on her door and she began taking the missionary lessons.  At the first Sacrament Meeting she attended, the hymn was “Come, Come Ye Saints” and she turned to the Elders and said, “I know that hymn!” which puzzled the Elders, who wondered where she ever could have heard it before.  She was, of course, later baptized, and has had two grandchildren serve missions.  He closed by singing his version of that beautiful hymn, including one verse in Spanish.  The meeting, his music and his message was an absolute spiritual feast for us !

We have been working with 4 investigators and less-active members.  It has been such a wonderful experience teaching and relying on the Spirit to guide us.  All 4 of them came to a Fast and Testimony Meeting with us on Sunday and one sister bore her testimony, which, of course, made our day!  We look forward to their progression.   We have so many people to contact, our days are so full.  It is a wonderful work and Elder and I are growing, learning, being challenged daily, being blessed daily, and are so grateful for the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to share.

The Work Goes On…

We have been so busy, busy!  It takes a lot of time to get around to the 8 wards we have been assigned to, and meet the Bishoprics, the members of the Ward Councils and get them to know us.  Sometimes we go to their individual homes, sometimes we go to their Ward Council meetings on Sunday.   We attend at least two Sacrament Meetings every Sunday and mingle with the ward a bit before and after.   It has been very enjoyable doing this.

We had our first Zone Meeting and it was very motivational!!  We loved it.  There are approximately 40 missionaries in our Zone, with 6 Senior Missionary Couples, and the rest are divided pretty evenly between Elders and Sisters.  The other Senior Couples are so fun to be around and we get together socially on our P-Days a bit.  And of course, the young Elders and Sisters are so energetic, full of the spirit and lively!

We have done some visiting of recently baptized members in our spare time lately.  Today, we visited with Esther who was baptized about 6 months ago.  She is 93 years old but, unfortunately, is suffering with some problems in her legs, so she cannot attend Sacrament Meeting.  We read a few scriptures together and prayed together.  We are hoping that she can recover enough to come to Sacrament Meeting with us, which would be so wonderful.  Such a sweet lady!

We struggled with a bit of discouragement this last week.  We realize this will be a part of things from time to time.  Our investigator Sue, who we watched General Conference with, told us she didn’t want us to teach her any more of the lessons.   She is also in her 90’s.  We stopped by and had an enjoyable visit with her this morning and left her with a prayer.  Of course, we pray for a softening of her heart.  She is somewhat of an agnostic.

Tomorrow night we will begin teaching Michael, who asked his sister to find some Mormon missionaries because he wanted to learn about the Gospel.  I believe Elder Fresh is going to teach the Restoration lesson. We are looking forward to meeting him and teaching him.

Tonight we have our weekly Missionary Correlation Meeting where we meet with the Ward Mission Leaders and Ward Missionaries we have been assigned to.  They give us our “work” for the next week, with names and details about potential investigators, partial-member families and inactive members to visit, or even new move-ins to stop by and visit. It’s an energizing meeting.

So the good work goes on in the wonderful Utah Saint George Mission, and Elder Fresh and I are loving it!!

“Lift Up Your Heart…”

“Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come;

and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings

of great joy unto this generation.” 

Doctrines and Covenants 31:3

We are loving the work here in the Bloomington Stake of the Utah St. George Mission!  We have met so many wonderful people, both members and non-members.  It is so amazing that when you really listen with spiritual ears to an investigator’s story, you know with crystal clarity the message that you need to give them.

The young family we met while out tracting last week, the Tuefalas: Mom, Dad and 2 little boys, have been a little hard to catch up with and tie down for an appointment, however, we feel something from them, an open-ness.  We have had two different socializing activities in our Stake this week, but could not get them to either one.  The Spirit whispered to slow down and not put any pressure on them.  We would rather them miss a party, than for us to miss the opportunity to be welcomed into their home to teach.  As missionaries, the spirit of the work has us so fired up, we just want to give them the whole banquet of the Gospel.

We have been in the home twice this last week of Roman, a smart and handsome 12-year-old, and his Mother, who is inactive.  Roman was just recently baptized and will received the Priesthood soon.  Mom sits in on the teachings and participates, and gave a prayer when invited.  We have left him with challenges both times to read pamphlets on The Restoration and The Plan of Salvation.  He is obedient to the challenge and clearly understands what he has read.

And then there’s Anna, a 93-year old sweetheart with the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen.  She is slowly grasping things as we teach and testify, and was willing to say a prayer before we left.  I love to hear the humble prayers offered by someone who hasn’t prayed in a long time.  She agreed to watch the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference with us.  We are looking forward to that.

We managed to fit it some service hours at the local food bank, and plan to do this as often as our schedule permits. We loved the hours spent among humble and sweet people.

 “Because I have been given much, I, too, must give…” 

Hymn, Page 219

First Day, First Appointment!

Today was our first day of getting out in the field, going with the full-time Elders tracting.  They took one side of a street and we took the other.  After knocking on 45 doors (okay, maybe it was more like 14 or 15), we talked with a few members asking for referrals, and heard a number of people say (through the crack in the door) that they were not interested.  Of course, there were many people not home, but at the next-to-last door, a young father and son answered.  We told him the purpose of our being there, and after consulting with his wife, they agreed to meet with us at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday!  Oh my goodness, I LOVE missionary work!   So we can’t wait to get to know this young family and teach them, by the spirit, the message the Lord would have them hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We accompanied the Elders to an appointment with a young 12 year old boy, Roman, who has just been baptized and received the Aaronic Priesthood, along with his less-active mother, Sharon.  Things went very well, both are coming along in their knowledge of the Gospel as we read Alma 32 together.  Roman is the cutest and smartest young man.  It will be fun to watch him and his mother’s testimonies grow and strengthen.

We ended the day with the weekly Ward Mission Leader Correlation meeting and met some of the ward mission leaders in our area, and got caught up on what is going on with the work.  It was very beneficial.  One of the wards has 6 ward missionaries.  There is alot going on here in our Bloomington, Utah Stake, which is the top baptizing stake of over 40 in the Utah Saint George Mission.   Then home to wrap up the rest of the loose ends from our first day, trying to assimilate names, situations, wards, game plans, etc. and do our planning and studying for another great day tomorrow!

The MTC – What A Place!

We have been at the MTC for four days now, and wow, everyone should have this experience!  Many people have told us that we would meet the nicest people here, and that is true, we have.  There about 100 Senior Couples with us this week from all over, and going forth to serve all over.  We are organized into Districts and there are 8 of us in our district:  Elder and Sister Gattage are from Providence, Utah and are going to Columbia, South Carolina.  Elder and Sister Thueson are from Newport Beach, Oregon and are going to the Philippines.  Elder and Sister Olsen are from Indianapolis, Indiana and are going to Norway.

One cannot imagine the energy emanating from more than 2,000 young, energetic and excited young men and women.  You feel like the building will lift off!  They are so wonderful to observe and we marvel at what an army of strong and temple-endowed missionaries are being sent out across the globe.  They are so polite to us Senior Couples (we can cut straight to the front of long lines in the cafeteria) and will stop and shake our hands and ask about our Mission.  They always are hard at work everywhere, studying, reading or practicing their language.   At our Tuesday evening Devotional where Sister Wixom spoke, the choir consisted of over 1,000 young missionaries.  It was a thrilling Devotional.

We put in long days, getting up at 5:45 to get ready, pray and study before Breakfast at 7:00.  Our classes begin at 8:00 am and go until 4:30 pm.  We have dinner, then go back to our room to complete our homework assignments and scripture study until bedtime.  We are ready for bed by that time!  The work is hard and we have learned so much about being missionaries and “Teaching People – Not Lessons”.  We have had incredible Elders and Sisters as our teachers (all of whom have only been off their own missions for a few months).   Together, Elder Fresh and I are learning to work together in our companionship.

Tomorrow is our last day here, and we will never forget being at the MTC.  Our testimonies have grown and we are more excited than ever to share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!!

One Week To Go!

Well, the time is almost here, and it seems unreal.  One week from today, we will be in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  We have looked forward to this for so long and cannot wait to get started.  The rest of this week will be busy in final preparations, spiritually, emotionally and mentally to give all we have to this, our time of service to the Lord in the building up of His Kingdom here in St. George, Utah!