Monday, July 27, 2009

Mission Update July 26, 2009

July 26, 2009

Dear Family and Friends,
Sister Heaton and I made it through our first transfer and guess what? We still have the same companions, even though Sister Heaton was campaigning for a new one! The young missionaries on the other hand had to sweat it out to see if they were staying or leaving. There have been a lot of happy/sad moments. Another result is that we have had many baptisms which seems go up around transfer time. The really good missionaries try hard to reap the harvest of their labor. Today we had five baptisms at the inter-stake center from 3 different wards and a Chinese baptism.
Our new Mission President has been baptized in the mission with fire. He has had a “Meet the President” meeting with all 4 zones, Zone Conferences, interviews with 204 missionaries not to mention the Senior Couples. He has had speaking assignments almost every Sunday with virtually all of the Stakes. He replaces two old Mission Presidents. We had a record 22 missionaries arrive just before he arrived and now transfers. Then it all starts over! And we have a new mission computer program that Salt Lake gave us that we are trying to implement. He has held up remarkably well considering that he has 3 young children ranging in age from 3 to 14.
Sister Heaton continues to save lives and tithing funds. We had a frantic call at about 9:00 pm the other night. There were 5 Elders coming homein a car from a ward function. One of the Elders was vomiting and going into a spasm. The Elder on the line thought he was going to die and wanted to rush him to the emergency room. Sister Heaton asked what they had been eating and determined that the food was a little suspect. Finally another Elder got on the phone and took control and asked what needed to be done. She told him that it sounded like it might be food poisoning and that it would have to work its way out of his system. He said the Elder was light headed and tingly all over. She asked if they had a bag of some sort that he could breath into. They did and she told them that he was hyperventilating and that it would soon go away. After hanging up the phone, about an hour later we get another call. This time it was from a member that these Elders went over to see. Turns out it was the Bishop of the Ward and seemed to have some type of medical experience and he wanted to send him down to the Emergency Room. Sister Heaton patiently went over again what she thought the problem was and that it would have to run its course. That taking the Elder down to the ER would not help the problem, but that she would call the area medical Doctor and have him call them. When the Doctor called back he confirmed what Sister Heaton had thought that it was and sent them home to let it run its course. He also mentioned that the Bishop was a Vet for animals. When she talked to President Wade the next day about what happened and she got to the part that of the Bishop wanting to send him to the ER he asked what did he do, feel the Elder for a wet nose or check to see if his tongue was purple. We all had a pretty good laugh. The Elder survived and was back out on the street a day later.
I have been out on several teaching appointments. My Elder and Sister bait of offering them Reeses Peanut Butter Cups seems to be working well. I am now over phones and have named myself the “PHONE CZAR”! I have the dubious task of checking phone logs to make sure that mission rules are being complied with. I have called all of the violators with the same approach. I let them know that I am the newly appointed “Phone Czar” and ask them if they know what a Czar is? They usually say no, so I explain to them that the Czars were leaders in Russia that united the people and made them comply with the rules. Then I asked if they knew what the Czar did if they did not comply. They usually said, “Kill them???”. Yes I would say. That is correct. Then I asked them if they knew what mission policy was for phone use. They said, yes. Then I asked, “Well so that we are on the same page, what is your version?” They would rehearse the policy and I would fill in the blanks. Then I would say that we have a few policy violations that I am sure there is a good explanation for because President Wade is going to see this log and I need to tell him about it. Most of the time they cleared it up and promised to use the phones for their intended use. If it was bad or they would not confess, then I asked if they needed to talk to the President. Usually that got to the bottom of the problem. However, I did have two that needed to talk to the President. So much for the Phone Czar and so far I haven’t had to kill one of them.
Our District fasted this last week for the Nepal Refugees. Miracles are happening with this group and we have had our first commitment for baptism and teaching appointments with several others. I had the opportunity to help teach Berindri, Mon and their son Bimal last week and what a lovely family they are. We need your prayers that we help these people understand and live the gospel.
I went out teaching with the Spanish Elders too and committed a recent convert get his Patriarchal Blessing and start coming back to church. Unfortunately he did not show up to church this week. My heart just bleeds for those that Satan continues to blind and sift. There are other experiences too numerous to mention, but we still are enveloped in the work and loving it. Other than our family and friends, it is the best, but isn’t it all just one composite anyway?
We love you,

Elder & Sister Heaton
P.S. I have been reading in the missionary journal of William Heaton my great, great, grandfather who served for 5 years in England before he migrated to Utah. He was the first missionary on the Heaton side of my family. Interesting to me is that we have had at least (3) descendents from him serving in this mission. Myself, Sister Caroll Gubler Jensen who just recently went home with her husband to Canada. Her mother is Genevieve Heaton Gubler from LaVerkin and newly arrived Elder Matthew John Schmutz from Kanab whose mother or grandmother is a Heaton I believe. I will ever be grateful, especially at this time when we revere our Pioneer Heritage. They literally provided this opportunity to have the eternal gospel in my life and now so many others. I hope that my mission somehow pays part of the debt.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mission of Miracles July 11, 2009

Hello Family and Friends from the great California Oakland/San Francisco Mission,

From the Temple Hill that looks out over the San Francisco Bay and down to the masses of God’s children in these two wonderful cities. We hope and pray that all is well with you. Sister Heaton and I are doing quite well and the Lord blesses us on a daily basis. This is truly living the Law of Consecration, according to Elder Hales, where you put all worldly affairs aside and give all of the time, talents and everything that the Lord has given you or will bless you with to the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth. There is nothing like it in the world. Our children that served missions used to get after me when I would try to describe missionary life because I had not served one and didn’t have the perspective and now I see why. Until you have done it, there is no way that one can fully tell people about it. Heaven has to be shown not described by human lips. I believe that this is why some of the prophets were relieved of the responsibility of writing some of the most sacred things they saw and experienced because of the inadequacy of human language.

We see miracles almost every day. Our mission President when we arrived said that it would be like that. I kind of put that thought aside thinking that it might be a slight overstatement, but it is not! The miracle of conversion goes on every day and these missionaries that dedicate themselves are sometimes the miracle. We have just finished our first Zone Conferences. In our mission there are four zones, where the leaders of the mission give training and the missionaries come together and see former companions to talk and eat. If it is a missionary’s last time to be at Zone Conference, they are asked to bare their testimony. It is like hearing angels reporting to the Savior and Heavenly Father. No eye is dry, no heart not touched as they describe their progression in the mission and some of the sacrifices and physical challenges that often motivated them to serve. Most of all, many want to stay. They know that they are being sent back into the lone and dreary world and all of the challenges that come with it. Some of them may not even recognize what they have done until they get home and some will fall and some will continue on, but they will all know where they have been. Blessed be the name of the Lord for agency. Please help all of these returned missionaries to transition back into life as we know it.

One of the most heart-warming experiences is before the missionaries go in to eat at zone conference. They invite all of the people that prepared the meals to come out and stand in front of the whole zone, usually on the stand in the chapel, and ask them if they have anyone that they know that is serving or has served missions. Most do and share little blessings that they have received. Then our mission president tells them that the missionaries would like to sing to them. We then sing “Called To Serve”, and then what is called the lunch song that goes like this:

"We have been born as Nephi of old
To goodly parents who love the Lord
And on this day, we thank you a bunch
For fixing us this fantastic LUNCH
We are as the Army of Helaman
And when our mission is through
We’ll thank the Lord, for all who have
Helped us, especially people like you
Your Christ like love has shone through"
I have not been able to emotionally get all of the way through the song yet, as you watch good people that have fed the Lord’s servants react to these young men and women giving thanks in song.

Sister Heaton gives her presentation on medical after lunch and tries to encourage them and gives instruction on how to stay healthy so they can continue to keep their shoes on the ground and their mouths teaching. She also tells of missionaries she has raised and missionaries that our children have married into and because of that experience how much she loves and cares for each one of them. She lets them know that they can call 24/7 (and they do) if they have a need.
Missionary life is not easy. It is filled with sacrifice and sometimes brief moments of doubt and always concern for those at home. We also know that Heavenly Father is taking care of all of you and blessing each of you. Our prayers are for each of you every day.

Well, we need to get off to English for the Chinese class. Then pick up a person to be baptized today and an investigator tomorrow that is going to our “Why I believe” fireside that has recent converts telling their story. God be with you ‘till we write or hear from you again.

With all our love,

Elder and Sister Heaton

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mission Update July 4, 2009

Dear Family, Friends and our Wonderful Kaibab Ward Members,

Sister Heaton and I have officially been in the mission field for our first full month. We cannot express enough gratitude for the support and love that has been extended to us from all of you. You have been a blessing in our lives that we will never forget and you have made our journey here in the California Oakland/San Francisco Mission even more enjoyable. We pray for you daily and hope that you all are planning on serving in whatever capacity Heavenly Father has for you as well. We are all Brothers and Sisters and we feel a deep commitment to our Father in Heaven through your examples and dedication to His Kingdom.

This last month has been a whirlpool of emotion and chaos as we acclimate to missionary life and prepared to bid farewell to President and Sister James and Trudy Beck. They blessed our lives with such a warm welcome to the mission field and truly showed us how to love. There were many tears and heartfelt thanks before they left and what a legacy they did leave behind. Not one missionary was sent home to a church court in the three years that they served. Their love for each one of the missionaries was overwhelming. In their parting prayer with the office staff I listened as the President wept for those missionaries remaining behind that they would remain clean and faithful and obedient to the Lord. I have seen Christ-like love before. This was on even a higher scale. It could have been the Lord himself praying for them.

We welcomed President and Sister David G. and Debbie Wade. Very capable people. We were very humbled when they told Sister Heaton that they had prayed her here. President Wade worked in the Missionary department that oversees mission applications and prepares them for the Brethren. He would sit in the meetings as an Apostle of the Lord determines where missionaries are to serve. He bore testimony in our “Welcome the President” meeting that every calling is inspired and that we literally receive a call from the prophet of the Lord and the Lord Himself.

Sister Heaton has been very busy with her calling as the Mission Medical Advisor. She continues to save the church literally thousands of tithing dollars. This was the highest cost mission in the church for medical needs. She truly is helping to curb that aspect of the mission. To give you an idea of some of the problems that missionaries run into, here is a list: Sprained ankle (soccer injury) bad rash that turned out to be an acne breakout, many flu type symptoms that would have been an emergency room visit have been avoided, diet requirements that were not being followed closely enough, emotional problems and eating disorders and sometimes just plain old stress and first time away from home symptoms that really are not physical health problems. Sister Heaton handles them professionally and with the help of the unbelievable medical help from Church Area Medical Doctors. The missionaries have the best health care available. It helps them keep focused and in their field of labor. More boots on the ground translates into more baptisms and more lessons being taught and the kingdom moving forward in this area. She is also the Mission President’s wife’s best friend. (-:

My responsibilities have not been well defined yet, but as they told us in the M.T.C. that we all are proselyting missionaries after our other responsibilities and I have taken that to heart. We have been tracking down lost sheep for the Oakland 9th Ward. I have also been bribing missionaries to take me out on teaching appointments. I have found that Reeses Peanut Butter Cups are the best bate. Last evening Elder Orr from Oklahoma and Elder Fearnely from Utah invited me to go. I told them that they had to teach someone in order to qualify for the Reeses! Of course as it would happen our first appointment did not want have us see them according to the children. So like good missionaries they had a back up plan to go teach a recent convert a follow-up lesson. This did not pan out either and they were a little disappointed so I asked them what the backup to the backup plan was. He said that they had some referrals from LDS advertising that people request free material or a visit from the missionaries and I said, “Great, lets go track them down”. The first one had requested a free Bible but was in a huge apartment complex of maybe 200 units and we did not have an apartment number. I said, “Have no fear; lets go!” and I marched up to the first door not knowing who was behind it and knocked. A male voice in a gruff voice said, “who is it?” I said we were members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he said to go away . I asked if Tiffany French was there. Our collective jaws dropped when he said yes! We told him that she had requested a Bible and we wanted to talk to her. She came to the door and of course we didn’t have one to give her, but told her that we would go back to our apartment and pick one up for her and that we would be back with it. She said that she could not study with us tonight but that she would set an appointment to at a later time. She has no affiliation with a church and has a 3 year old son and a fiancĂ© that probably lives with her (we’ll work on that one). The rest of the evening went on like that with the Holy Ghost guiding our every step. We ran into Jose’ working on his car at the apartment complex when we went back for Tiffany’s Bible. I asked if he belonged to a church he said , “Yes, Catholic.” I asked if we could come and talk to him about church? He said, “Which one?” As I tried to tell him, Elder Fearnly took his name tag off and showed him. With a smile on his face he asked if we spoke Spanish. We said a little but we would get our friends if he preferred Spanish. We set an appointment for next Monday. After we delivered the Bible we went looking for an address that they had tried to find before. It led us to a Catholic Church so we went in and asked if they knew Israel Perez. The Priest did not know him, but he wished God to be with us and we bid him the same. Across the street there were some apartments so we went there. There was an open window on the second floor so I yelled up to a girl in the window and asked if she knew him. She said no so I asked her if she knew any Mormons? She said yes she had a friend named James that was. I asked if she would like to know more about Mormons and she said yes. We set an appointment up with Paola. Then we went to the used car lot next door and asked a man in the back if he knew Israel Perez or the address. He said no. I asked him how business was and he said that he was just filling in for the owner who was away because his 27 year old brother had been killed a couple of days earlier in a motorcycle accident. Elder Fearnely told about how families can be together and asked him if he thought that would help his friend. He said yes so we left a pass along card with our contact information and got his information as well to teach him as well. He is Egyptian with 3 daughters that really likes soccer. Lastly we went to Vera Johnson’s. She is an 81 year old woman that has an adopted daughter that lives with her that is a member of the church. The missionaries have been working with Vera for a long time. We talked about baptism and the end result was Elder Fearnley challenged her to be baptized on the 25th. I told her that we had another lady her age in the Chinese Branch that was baptized this last week and she survived. We will pray for her’s and the missionary’s success.

Words cannot express what missionary life is like. It far exceeds what my puny expectations were. We bath in the Spirit and the love of the Savior virtually every hour and minute of the day. Elder Hales said that full time missionary work is living the law of consecration and now we know why.

May you all stay true to the faith is our prayer for you.

With Love,

Elder and Sister Joel and Shawn Heaton