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

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