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

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