Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Question?


First, my calling as the Mission Phone Coordinator has peaked I think.  To date I have found that a missionary can drop a phone in the water in a parking lot, have two missionaries try to baptize (2) phones in the baptismal font on the same day, put a missionary's phone through a complete wash cycle in the clothes washing machine or even have sister missionaries run over a phone with a mission car and still have them work afterwards.  The Lord does look out for mission equipment as well as the missionaries.  Two of the phones had to be replaced because the car busted one in two and the full cycle wash made the display dim.  The others were resurrected to their previous function by placing the battery in the freezer and phone in a bag of uncooked rice.



My 87 years young dad called me up yesterday to ask me a question.  How are you doing?  Before I get to my response, let me say what a wonderful thing it is to know that someone cares about you and is really interested in the missionary work that the Lord has you doing while you are so far from home and family for what seems a long/short time.  Thanks to all of our wonderful family and friends that offer us such great encouragement. What thrilled me more was what HE was doing.  He has always shared the gospel, most of the time without a formal calling (although he has been a ward mission leader at times), with anyone that he comes in contact with that needs the gospel message. He was telling me about this 17-year-old young man whose grandfather had joined the church about 4 years ago that he was teaching with the full time missionaries in his ward.  His ward just divided so now he is in a new ward for about a week without a calling, which does not seem to slow him down much.  He let me know that this young man's grandfather has not yet received the priesthood even after being in the church for 4 years and how he is going to help the ward become aware of this.  What an inspiration it is to hear him speak of the life changing events in people's lives.


I told my dad about the baptism we had last Sunday.  Truly another miracle as the Lord guided us to this 40-year-old man from Texas to teach.  He asked that I perform the ordinance. My dad served his mission in Texas so I told him that we were just finishing up some of the work he left on his mission.  He thought that was pretty funny.


Just about every missionary reaches a point in their mission where they wonder, "what am I really doing out here?"  It doesn't matter if you are a young missionary or a senior couple.  The world moves on and it almost seems like it is moving without you in it. Your family is getting older, school and work are put behind and here you are in a far away place doing something that is not natural to most people.  Missionary work is hard!  Not necessarily physically, although it can be, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  You question the very core belief system that brought you out in the first place.  For a few they become obsessed with it to the point that they leave early.  Those that make it through to the end have certainly been through the refiner's fire. 


After a teaching appointment late the other night, while walking back to our cars, a young missionary asked if he could speak to me.  He was struggling.  He felt inadequate in his teaching.  He felt less adequate because he was our District Leader and felt the weight of his calling.  He was also feeling guilty because his indicator numbers were low.  He said, "I really do not know why I am here."  This is a great young man because he cares.  I assured him that most everyone goes through this.  I told him what a fine teacher that he is.  How I enjoyed serving with him and what a difference he has made to me and to the rest of our district.  I complimented him on how he had just finished this teaching appointment.  Then I told him to quit sweating the small stuff like indicator numbers.  They would take care of themselves in the Lord's time if they continued to work hard.  I asked if he was working hard? He and his companion said that they were.  I asked if they were praying and studying?  They assured me that they were.  I said, " Elder do you believe that this is the Lord's work?"  He assured me that he did.  I said, " then let the Holy Ghost do His job.  Don't teach another person until you are guided to do so.  Sometimes we take too much on ourselves and show our pearls to swine.  That is not a good thing and makes us feel inadequate as teachers of the gospel."  Then I advised him to testify of Jesus Christ to everyone that he comes in contact with, but not to teach anyone until the Spirit directs him to.  I volunteered to go out street contacting with them the following day. I told him again, do not teach anyone until the Spirit directs you.  The first people we talked to were a couple of women fixing a bike that were obviously Proposition 8 opponents.  I told them that I had a couple of bike experts to assist them.  They said, "Oh, you do not want to talk to us."  I assured them that we did.  While helping them with the bikes we testified that God is no respecter of persons and invited them to come unto Christ. They said well there is that excommunication thing and I said yes, but if you are a non-practicing same sex attraction person that you could repent and be baptized just like anyone else.  We parted shaking hands and feeling good about each other as brothers and sisters.  We did not teach just testified.  Next we came across this young lady sitting on the porch finishing smoking a cigarette.  I asked her if we could share a gospel message with her.  We were a little surprised when she said please do.  Turned out that her father was a Baptist preacher, but she had left home to follow her fiancĂ©, but it didn't work out.  She was in a transitional place in their life.  I looked at this Elder and he looked at me.  He then went on to teach her a powerfully spiritual lesson on the restoration of the gospel. We left her with a Book of Mormon that she was excited to get, a reading assignment that she promised that she would read, and a return appointment.  Next we ran into an old contact on a bike. He was a jolly fellow who was a professor at the University of San Francisco.  We set an appointment to visit with him later. The rest of the hour that we were out heard us testify and greet. When we finished I did not say another word on the way home.  This missionary had once again found his way.


So how are we doing? Missionary work is hard.  It is hard to be away from home.  But I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life.  The world goes by for a time without you and the Lord shows you eternity and what you are really all about.


I will leave you with this last thought that I posted on our face book page.


I think of that sacred grove

Where a boy communed with God

All things ceased to distract.


Peace I leave with you,

My peace I give unto you

Not as the world giveth

Give I unto you.

Let not your heart be troubled

Neither let it be afraid.


Then I pause….

I know that Heavenly Father,

God of all creation knows me.

He cares enough to hear my simple prayer.

Everything artificial disappears as I close my eyes

And Heaven is heard.


We love you all.



Elder and Sister Heaton

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A mission picture!

****I have been WAY behind in posting what I've been given, so if you're confused about the timeline of the posts I'm sorry, I'll eventually catch up and get on top of things again! Love, Shell****

Hello again maybe way too soon,

Our children have been asking for pictures from our mission. Sister Heaton and I are not really on top of that so one of our good friends forwarded this picture of our Ward that we are serving in. I hope that you do not have a problem remembering what we look like, otherwise it will be a little like "Where's Waldo?"

The lady on the front row 3rd from the left to the right is getting baptized this Sunday. Sister Heaton and I have been helping to teach her. The lady on the 5th row front to back and 2nd from left to right along with her husband are the first of the Bhutan refugees from Nepal to be baptized. Her husband was working the night of the picture.

This ward is very reflective of the population of Oakland. They are as diverse as any in the world. They come in all shapes and sizes. There are deaf ones and blind ones. Here are a few of the countries that I can remember that are in the picture African Americans, Africans, India, The Philippines, Mexico, Bhutan as mentioned, all kinds of Island people like Tonga, Samoa, Fiji, HAweaii etc etc. Not pictured are Cambodians, Vietnamese, or Chinese of all kinds and most Hispanics because all but the Vietnamese have their own Branches to g to etc etc..

We are currently teaching a man from Sri Lanka who has committed to baptism on the 21st of March so add Sri Lanka. He is a refugee that went to Thailand and ran into the missionaries there and then was redirected to Oakland. We get to reap the harvest from the seed that they planted. It is a wonderful thing to watch some of HEavenly Father's children with such different backgrounds work together to bring about His kingdom here on the earth. This is a miracle in itself! The Holy Ghost has touched each one of them just as it has you and I.

We just got back from Mormon Night at Oracle Arena where 25 missionaries sang "The Star Spangled Banner" then Jazz beat the Warriors. Afterward Thurl Bailey spoke to those that wanted to stay and hear him in the arena about what is important to him. Tomorrow he will be speaking up by the Temple. It was great to see the support we received from everyone there. All we heard in Utah about the area was Prop 8 and how bad it made the church look. In reality it has brought the church unbelievable respect from people that we may not have otherwise been able to touch. That is all for now.

With our love as always,

Elder and Sister Heaton