Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Mission Update October 18, 2009

Sorry it's taken so long to get this up dad! By the way, I spoke with mom and dad yesterday and told them their blog could use a little "color" with some photos of their mission. I even taught mom how to use their camera, so everyone please join me in hounding them to send us some pictures!



Mission Update October 18, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Family and Friends,

Once again we are inspired to write a few lines and relay our love and concern for each of you. Our prayer is that this letter finds all of you well and progressing toward our heavenly goal.

Proverbs 27:10 reads:

Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

This is what we neighbors, friends or members of the church become to each other. We often are closer to each other as members than relatives are. A young man (a convert of about a year) and I have been visiting one of his home teaching assignments, a lady that is bed ridden. Her closest relatives live in the Midwest and she has no one to look in on her. This home teacher rarely misses a Sunday and makes up for it on other days if he does. He suffers from audio and visual hallucinations that are as real as you and I are to each other. He calls them the adversary. Since joining the church his whole life has changed. Before joining the church, he was on the street and a real mess. Today we met with the Bishop to see if we could get the sacrament taken over to this sister and to see if she might be able to receive her patriarchal blessing. His love is unparalleled for this sister and the church. As he reads the Book of Mormon to her, I see her relaxing and gaining more confidence in Heavenly Father. This example gives me great faith that we all have some worth to our Heavenly Father and by living up to the covenants that we make at baptism to lift each up and share each other’s burdens we become more like our Savior and Heavenly Father. We literally become His friend in the process.
Last Sunday we had a double baptism in the Oakland 9th Ward. Tiffany was baptized by Elder Dim Dim as I mentioned she would be in my last letter. I baptized Pearl, a lady that Sister Heaton and I have been taking to church regularly. It was a blessed event. After Tiffany was baptized (Elder Dim Dim is 5’5” and maybe 100 lbs. dripping wet and Tiffany about 6’ and a large woman, it was a struggle for him to get her back out of the water, but he did it) she came straight up out of the water and began to shout and clap. She was so happy and filled with joy that she couldn’t contain it. This reminded our ward mission leader, Derek Flourek, of Mosiah 18:8-11 in the Book of Mormon from which he quoted;

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—

10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.

This was most definitely the desire of Tiffany’s heart. Everyone that was in attendance felt that same joy and excitement. The miracle of true conversion humbles us as missionaries to the very soles of shoes as we act as a conduit for the Lord’s will in bringing the elect back to the path that leads to eternal life and salvation. What greater blessing in life is there than to touch others with the Savior’s love for them. We share this love in our families and as missionaries we share it with those that have “ears to hear and eyes to see.”

The Oakland Stake celebrated its 75th year of existence this week with a multicultural food court and display of past years and events. They have a rich heritage. Some of our Bhutan/Nepal investigators brought a rice pudding that was very good. Afterward, Sister Heaton and I met with the head of the house and others and gave a lesson on the dispensations of time and the need for the restoration and a modern prophet to guide the church. He wondered why there were so many different churches. Now he knows that there is just one. We are hoping that they will be the first fruits for this group of people that could lead to many, many more.

There are many, many more things that are going on all of the time. It is virtually impossible to write it all down. My poor journal is about worn out and I suffer from writer’s cramp. You just don’t want to forget any of the daily events as the Lord’s servant. Please share the gospel with all that you come in contact with. It is our prayer for you and them. As my son Joshua pointed out, “it might be the only time this person comes in contact with the church. What you do with it really does matter!”

With our love,

Elder and Sister Heaton

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mission Update 10/07/2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Family and Friends,

We are entering our fifth month in the mission field. The Lord has blessed us with health and strength to continue on in His work here in the Oakland/San Francisco area. What a wonderful experience to watch our first General Conference while serving the Lord full time on a mission. We have always paid attention to conference in the past, but it just seems more poignant at this time. Sister Heaton believes that she knows what President Monson’s moniker is going to be. “Love and Service” seemed to be his recurring theme throughout his talks and the rest of a lot of the talks during each session.

I was also particularly impressed with Elder Holland’s talk on the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. Why he would have to direct that talk to us, the Saints, is a little amazing to me. One knows that he must have had to field many concerns from members about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon to be so fervent in his talk. It begs the question, “When are we as church members going grow up spiritually?” I have a hard time believing that we people in the church do not humble ourselves enough to get an answer to the authenticity of this book that is the hallmark for the church and Christianity. I understand that this can be a real challenge for us people that have been born in the church. We take things so casually some times. We sometimes coast along and the reality of the Book of Mormon can be ASSUMED from birth until someone puts a doubt in our heads from some old dog criticism or new found scientific supposed evidence to the contrary. We have not had to work for our membership in the church by living outside of it. Many of us have not seen the miracle that happens when someone reads it for the first time and fervently prays to know whether it is of God or man. When, watching the change in investigators as they follow its precepts and Moroni’s challenge to pray to know puts a whole new light this conversion process and the blessings that it brings. I was at a teaching appointment with Elders Dim Dim (Pilipino) and Folsom ( Japan) teaching a lady by the name of Tiffany. She had already committed to baptism and they were teaching her the law of tithing and chastity before her baptismal interview and subsequent baptism this next Sunday. When we spoke about the Ten Commandments she said, “you mean you believe in the Bible?” She was genuinely surprised that we believe in the Bible. I said, “Elders you have not taught her what the standard works of the church are?” They said, “No, we wanted to emphasize modern revelation and somehow the Bible never came up.” What a testimony to the conversion power of the Book of Mormon! This good woman had prayed about the book to know of its truthfulness even without the Bible and found the answer as all of us can. That it has the whole gospel of Jesus Christ in it. That we really can come closer to our Father in Heaven and His Son by living by its precepts than by any other book, and finally, that it is true, just as Joseph Smith and all of the witnesses and tens of millions of others have testified, that it is. Thank you Elder Holland for your fervent and apostolic testimony to the same.

On another note, appendicitis surgery, Gall bladder surgery, dislocated fingers, bad ankles, dietary restrictions, belly aches of all kinds, acne, bad eyes and occasionally one companion not getting along with his companion threatening to do some sort of bodily harm to him seem to be plaguing the missionaries health along with the H1N1 flu virus. Needless to say, Sister Heaton has more than her share of challenges trying to keep the shoes on the ground and the missionaries out teaching. She was really disappointed when she broke her record of not putting anybody in the hospital with two hospital surgeries within 5 days of each other. Occasionally she gets an opportunity to go out and teach with me or the Sisters. This seems to recharge her and get her head out of all the sickness. She is also in charge of setting up Zone conferences with President Wade and the Stakes. It can get interesting if there are last minute changes made by the Priesthood leaders. Last Zone Conference we had Elder Hinckley scheduled to come and visit and of course he as presiding authority dictates what is going to happen. Unfortunately just days before his arrival, his office secretary called and said that something had come up and his schedule had changed. He would not be able to come. There was a mad scramble and somehow Sister Heaton was able to get everyone on board with the changes.

Missionary life is full of surprises and not too many dull moments. What a wonderful blessing it has been to experience the Lord’s work up close and personal. Our young Elders and Sisters, for the most part, are so magnificent in teaching and finding. Their dedication to the work is unparalleled. Elder Schmutz (from Kanab) and I along with Sisters Tu’ivai (Tonga) and Kaetler (Canada) were over teaching a group of people from our Nepalese refugee investigators. One of the ladies had requested a blessing. We had been trying to get her to go up to the visitors center by the temple but she said that she gets deathly car sick. I as mouth and Elder Schmutz anointing gave her a healing blessing. After that, another lady that had pneumonia and depression requested a blessing as well. I suggested that Elder Schmutz be the voice. He pronounced a wonderful healing blessing as well. Afterward I asked him if he had given a blessing before, “No,” was the response, “not as the mouth of the blessing.” You would never have known that he had not blessed thousands of others. I went back a few days later and this good lady was doing much better. Previously she was resistant to being taught and now the door has been opened. The lady that I blessed however has not had the courage to get in the car and go. Oh well! The Lord’s will be done.

I will leave you with what I hear the Tongan Elders say after they have had a wonderful spiritual experience.

Simply put, “The mission is good! The church is true!”

With all of our love for you and gratitude for your unbelievable support, prayers, concern and love for us,

Elder and Sister Heaton