Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fort Jackson News

I love when the APs come for dinner.  We always quiz them about their morning at the Fort.  When we talked to them last week, they said they thought there would be 11 baptisms today.  There was only 1.  Elder Muir said he didn't know what happened, but none of the soldiers who were on date showd up at church.  The one soldier who was baptized is the son of not one, but two Baptist ministers.  I told the Elders that it will be interesting to find out what his parents have to say about his baptism.  Elder Muir said, "He'll probably go home and baptize both of them.  He has the Aaronic Priesthood, you know."   These kids are very optimistic!  Ü. Giving up the ministry to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be a huge decision.  Those parents would be giving up their livelihood!

Despite the fact that there was only one baptism, the Elders and the Sisters who teach out there were very excited about all the activity.  They said there were so many soldiers who wanted to be taught that they didn't even have time to teach them all.  One soldier walked up to Elder Muir and said he wanted to be baptized.  His battle buddy, a returned missionary, had taught him all the lessons and he was ready.  He will probably be baptized next Sunday.  I asked the Elders if they were writing all these experiences and stories in their journals.  They'd better be!

New Beginnings...

Tomorrow we will say goodbye to our beloved President and Sister Holm.  Over the past nearly 10 months, we have come to appreciate those who are called to be mission presidents for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  As I told President a few weeks ago, I've always prayed for the missionaries, but now I pray for their leaders (their Presidents) as well.  What a calling they have!  What responsibility!

When President and Sister Holm came to the mission three years ago, there were 132 missionaries in the mission.  They are leaving tomorrow with 283 missionaries.  Over the past 3 years, they have worked with 690 missionaries.

I have great respect for men who are called to preside over the missions of the church.  I have sent 5 sons into the mission field.  I knew they all had mission presidents.  I met one of them (maybe two more - one in Riverside, CA and one in Fukoka, Japan) but I can't clearly remember meeting them.  We met our youngest son's mission president in Moscow, Russia because he and his wife invited us to dinner at the mission home when we went to Russia to pick Danny up at the end of his mission.  He was the only president I knew that had a young family.  He and his wife had, if I recall, 5 children, and the oldest was probably not yet a teenager.  Most mission presidents nowadays are called when they are retired, or just about to retire.

President are called to serve for three years.  They are not paid, but they live in the mission home, drive a mission vehicle and are given a stipend for living expenses.  They also have help maintaining the mission home.  When the Holms came to South Carolina, they were told that they could have someone come and help Sister Holm.  She was asked if she wanted someone who could cook or someone who would clean.  She chose someone who could cook.  Sister Contini has been here for 12 years - cooking for 4 mission presidents.  She doesn't cook for the Holms, but she does meals for the missionaries when they have leadership training meetings (all day meetings), Sister Specialized Training Meetings, Senior Training Meetings etc.  She also provides meals for incoming missionaries and departing missionaries who come to the mission and leave from the mission in groups.  I think the largest group of in-coming missionaries came last June.  There were 27 of them!  Sister Contini is a wonderful cook!  During President Holm's tenure, he gained 12 pounds, and he blamed Sister Contini for all 12.  Over the past few months, he has been cutting back and is now down to his pre-mission weight - only 4 pounds heavier than he was when he left his mission in Raleigh NC when he was 21-year-old.

Many men who are called as mission presidents are independently wealthy, but certainly not all!   Some are retired attorneys or doctors.  Some have been owners or on the boards of large companies.  Some have been teachers.  They are called from all walks of life to preside over the missions of the church, which now number 405 world-wide.

Jack's cousin, Kent Arrington, is currently president of the Chile Concepcion Mission.  That's where my parents served their first mission in 1985-86.  Kent is there with his wife Michelle.  They came in July of 2013 and will be there for two more years.

I went to and searched "mission presidents" and came up with personal profiles of a lot of those who have served or are presently serving.  It is a huge responsibility.  They are certainly guided and directed by the Spirit in their work!  Of this I bear testimony!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Greenies in the House!

We had three cute new Elders stay with us on Monday and Tuesday nights.  We only had 10 missionaries come in this transfer - 7 Elders and 3 Sisters.  E. Peterson, E. Jeffs and E. Roberts were with us.  The other four stayed with the APs and Larsens took the 3 Sisters.

They fly in around 3:30 in the afternoon.  They've been up since 2:30 AM, so they've always got that deer in the headlights look when we first get them.  :o)  The Elders went right to sleep, but only slept aobut 15 minutes, until Elder Peterson woke the other two up with his snoring.  They did doze off later, and slept about 30 minutes before we had to take them to the church for dinner and training.

The new missionaries train Monday night and all day Tuesday.  Tuesday night at Prime Time (6-9) they go out with trainers and knock doors.  When they come back, we always ask them about their first experience in the field.  Most of the people they knocked into Tuesday night at least let them in the house.  It was raining.  One woman, a Jehovah's Witness, was very nice and gave them each a drink of water.  They asked her if she would like a copy of the Book of Mormon.  She declined.  They asked if she would pray and ask God if He wanted her to read the Book of Mormon.  She refused to do that also.  Hearing the new Elders tell about that experience made me wonder what I would do if I were not a member.  I may have declined the Book of Mormon (although I have taken the J. W.'s Watch Towers), but if they asked me to pray and ask God if He wanted me to read a book, I'd probably do it.  I'm a big believer in prayer!  And I think I'm pretty open to doing what God wants me to do.  I don't think He would give me bad advice.

All in all, the newbies were pretty pumped.  It was fun to see them meet their new trainers and depart for their new areas in the mission.  Hope they retain their enthusiasm!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sister Bell

One of the sisters who bore her testimony today, also thanked President Holm for the opportunity he gave her last Sunday to call her father, on Fathers' Day.  I think she was the only missionary who had that privilege.  Her father is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  President told her to ask him if he would agree to be taught by the missionaries and be baptized.  She did, and he accepted. What a wonderful blessing that will be in the life of her family!  When she is released from her mission, and goes home, her family will then have the opportunity to go to the temple and be united for all eternity, by the sealing power of the Priesthood.  Sister Bell was so grateful.  She is such a beautiful and valiant missionary. We are so happy for her!

Final Zone Conference for President and Sister Holm

Today was West Columbia's Zone Conference.  It was the last zone conference for the Holms.  The conference was wonderful.  President and Sister Holm talked.  A YSA bishop from Atlanta, who was in the bishopric with President Holm years ago, also spoke.  He stopped by for a visit and President put him to work.  :o)  Zone trainings were done by about 6 companionships - both Sisters and Elders.  We had about 30 minutes for missionaries who wanted to bear their testimonies, and about 12-15 of them did. Sister Holm showed photos she had put together over the last few weeks - of every missionary in the mission - all 283 of them.  It was all put to music and was very powerful. After Sister Holm's presentation, the closing song and a prayer, President and Sister Holm stood at the front of the chapel and said goodbye to all the missionaries in the zone.  Each of the elders gave President one of their ties - draped them around his neck.  Sister Holm is going to have them made into a quilt for him.  :o)

We will miss the Holms.  They have been wonderful and dedicated leaders in this mission.  We LOVE them!

Monday, June 16, 2014

President and Sister Holm are leaving the Irmo Sisters with a lot of work! :o)

It sounds like the Holms were the first mission President couple who got out in their neighborhood and met the people who live there.  It started with their morning walks.  I don’t know if they did other neighboring, but I do know that in February, when everything closed down because of the snow and ice storms that Sister Holm cooked up batches of chili and stew and soup and invited the neighborhood to come over to visit.  They had a lot of people come over and many of them had questions about the church. 

With their departure coming right up, President and Sister Holm again invited the neighborhood to stop in to say goodbye.  They had an open house last week and now nine couples have asked for missionaries to come and teach them.  That is going to keep the Irmo Sisters busy for a while!

"You live in the Mormon Parrish?"

President Holm told us quite a while ago that when they first moved into the mission home, they started doing early morning walks around the neighborhood.  Many other people in the area were also out in the morning - most of them walking their dogs.  :o)  They were able to meet a lot of new people.  When they first went out, they were asked by one couple where they lived.  As they described the area and the house where they lived, the man said, "Oh!  You live in the Mormon Parrish?"  Haha!  President thought that was hilarious, and so did we!  I guess all the people in that subdivision referred to the mission home as the Mormon Parrish.  :o)

"I've never seen a soldier in tears!"

Elder Muir was telling us yesterday about a soldier he talked to at Fort Jackson that morning.  The soldier was not a member of the church, but had gone up to the front of the chapel to get a Priesthood blessing after Sacrament Meeting.  Elder Muir thought he looked pretty distraught, so he went over and talked to him afterward  He invited him to come and sit and talk.  The soldier told Elder Muir that he was having some family problems.  Elder Muir taught him about the restoration, and he said, "When I was telling him about the first vision, he just started to cry!  I've never seen a soldier in tears before!"  Right on the spot, the soldier said, "I know this is true and I want to be baptized!"  The Holy Spirit is hard at work at Fort Jackson!!!

"For behold, the field is white, already for harvest..." "D&C 4

We had the Assistants to the President over for dinner yesterday. They are two of 8 missionaries assigned to Fort Jackson on Sunday mornings, so we always ask them how it's going at the Fort.  The Fort is a happenin' place in our mission.  Before we came, the office couple we replaced, the Deckers, were assigned to go to the Fort on Sundays.  It was Elder Decker's job to fill the portable baptismal font.  Sister Decker remarked in an email she sent to us before we came out that it was rare that they didn't have at least one baptism at Fort Jackson every Sunday.  We wondered about that statement - if we were understanding her correctly - but it's true!  Since we've been here (over 9 months) we know of only one Sunday when there wasn't a baptism!

The Fort is a "field, already for harvest!"  (D&C 4:1-7)   Many of the soldiers come with their Mormon buddies just so they can get out on a Sunday morning.  Fort Jackson is a basic training camp - a boot camp - and the soldiers are harshly treated and very restricted!  When these young men and women have the opportunity to get out of the barracks on a Sunday morning for a couple of hours, they are glad for the chance!  But, some come because they've gotten to know soldiers in their platoons who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and they like what they see.  Some of their Mormon buddies are returned missionaries who have just joined the Army.  Some are just young men and women who try their best to live their religion.  Whatever their reason for coming to church, a lot of soldiers attend services at Fort Jackson.

The missionaries always arrive early.  Vans and buses carrying soldiers start pulling up about 15 minutes before the meeting begins and the missionaries get to work. They greet the soldiers and ask if there are any questions about the church.  If there are questions, the missionaries pull the soldiers aside and start talking to them.  Sacrament meeting begins at 9:30 AM and lasts about an hour.  When Sacrament Meeting is over, soldiers who are baptized members usually go on to their next meetings - the men go to Priesthood Meeting and the women go to Relief Society.  Some of their non-member friends go with them, but many stay in the chapel and are taught by the missionaries.  There are two sets of elders and two sets of sisters assigned to the Fort, so they break up and there can be as many as 8 clusters of soldiers who are being taught at the same time.  Sometimes the teaching is on-on one, depending on the needs of the soldiers.

The first time we were at the Fort, we sat a few rows behind a group of soldiers that Sister Gale was teaching.  She taught about the restoration of the gospel.  Her lesson was short but very powerful, we thought.  When she finished, she asked the soldiers to kneel and pray individually and ask God if what they had just heard was true.  It was so interesting to me to see how this worked.  As the soldiers finished praying, Sister Gale asked them how they felt and asked if they had any questions.  We weren't close enough to hear the soldiers' responses and they were facing Sister Gale and away from us.  But that's how teaching is done at the Fort - and I guess pretty much all over the mission.  We've never had the opportunity to sit in on a missionary teaching discussion, but it's my understanding that this is standard procedure.  The missionaries teach and then immediately ask the investigators to pray and get confirmation from God, through the Holy Spirit, that what they've heard is true.

While the missionaries are doing their work, there are two sets of Priesthood holders up front who are giving Priesthood blessings to any of the soldiers who want them.  I'd say that most of the soldiers asking for blessings are already members, but some of them aren't.  Both times we were at the Fort, there were quite a few soldiers at the front of the chapel waiting to get Priesthood blessings.

Meanwhile, outside on the lawn, the font is filled and those who have been taught, have attended church for two weeks and have passed the baptismal interview are baptized.  Sometimes they are baptized by one of the missionaries assigned to the Fort, but many times they are baptized by the army buddy who introduced them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This was a busy morning at Fort Jackson.  Looks like 3-4 baptisms.
 Elder Fenton presided at the services and Sister Fenton kept the records.
On days when there are several baptisms, the Fentons were very busy!!!

Elder Saunders (left) and Elder Gonzalez (right) were witnesses of the baptisms on this Sunday morning.

After each soldier is baptized, he or she is taken over to a chair by the building where they are confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and receive the Holy Ghost.  The male soldiers are also ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood.

"You will only attend a non-denominational church for the next two weeks!" What???

When the Assistants to the President (the APs) came for dinner yesterday, they had some disturbing news. The First Sergeant in one of the platoons at Fort Jackson put out an order restricting his soldiers from attending our church services.  He told them that for the next two weeks, they were only allowed to attend non-denomination services.  What?  Elder Brenchly (a military relations missionary and retired military man) called the 1st Sergeant to task.  What he is doing is clearly unconstitutional!  Elder Brenchly said he would report him to the head of Chaplains on the Fort, but the 1st Sergeant said he would not withdraw his order. He said that the head of Chaplains had no authority over him, and until he heard from a higher authority, he would not withdraw his order.

Jack is confident that the order will be withdrawn and he said that the 1st Sergeant will probably be disciplined.  What a weird situation!  Unheard of!!!

The APs were really upset because they had been teaching some of the soldiers who weren't able to attend. Some of these soldiers ship out soon and won't be able to be baptized before they leave unless the order is lifted.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"Reba's" Baptism!

I guess she doesn't REALLY look that much like Reba, but she reminds me of her - especially when she talks.  She's a cutie, and will be a real asset to the Chapin Branch!

Cookie's Baptism Day

I'm not sure how the Elders found this cute lady, but she was an ideal investigator!  She came to the Gospel Essentials class (which Jack teaches - very basic doctrine).  She was asking questions like, "Why don't all churches use the Book of Mormon?  It's just like the Bible!"  And, "There were prophets all through the Bible and Book of Mormon.  Why don't we have prophets today?"  Well, Cookie, we DO!  :o)

No More Strangers - West Columbia

Elder Aguilar bore his testimony.  He's a fairly new member of the church, but chose to come out and serve a mission, nonetheless.

Marcurious - Was a Baptist, then a member of a non-denominational church.  He had lots of questions and there was always this "tugging."  He ignored it for years.  In college, he had a roommate who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He thought his roommate was just the kind of person that God intended him to be.  He asked if he could go to church with his roommate.  Then he talked to the sister missionaries.  They taught him, and asked him to pray and ask if what they taught was true.  He did, and he was baptized.

Sister Poss. - I never hesitate when I am asked to bear my testimony.  The hand of God was there in my joining the church.  When I was young, my spiritual needs were fulfilled by my family.  When I got older, I looked for a church to join that did the most to help the community.  I joined the Episcopal Church, and then the Presbyterian Church.  When I moved to the South, I joined the Baptist Church.  You know those times you hear of the missionaries just knocking on "one more door" before they quit for the day?  I was that door.  I don't know why I let them it.  Normally, I wouldn't.  They taught me and gave me homework in preparation for the next meeting.  I read as much as I could so that I'd be prepared.  Then Elder Lash called and said he couldn't be there - he was being transferred.  I told him, "This is a sign that I should be a Baptist!"  No!  No!  No!" Elder Lash told me.  Elder Brimhall and Elder Cardin came to the appointment and brought 2 members of the Dutch Fork Ward with them.  I had been to religion classes before, but I couldn't believe that two missionaries would come to my home to teach just me!  I read prayerfully.  Sometimes tears just streamed down my face.  I read the Bible along with the Book of Mormon and checked out the references.  I could feel the Holy Spirit.  I thank God for picking me up and putting me in this church.

Sister Holm - Until you pray and ask God if it's true...until you do that, you will not know that these things are true.

May Harvester 2014 Miracle Moment

Here's the Miracle Moment we put in May's Harvester.  This just happened on June 2nd, and by Thursday, there was an update.  :o)

Elder Muir and Elder Willie were excited to get out and work from 6 pm till 9 pm on a Monday night. Just as they were ready to leave, they got a phone call. The Orangeburg Elders had locked their keys in their apartment and they couldn’t get in to change from p-day clothes into working clothes. The APs decided to help. They got the apartment keys from Sister Larsen and were ready to head to Orangeburg, but were prompted to go visit someone in their own area first. They called the locked-out Elders and suggested that they go out in their p-day clothes and visit with some less-actives in their ward while they waited.

Elders Muir and Willie went to visit a contact they’d been working with for quite a while. They watched the Restoration DVD in French with him, because he is from the Ivory Coast. He understood everything and accepted their offer of baptism. He is on-date for June 28th

When the Elders finished in Irmo, they drove to Orangeburg and unlocked the apartment. Before they left to drive back, they needed to get fuel. There was a gas station coming up on their right and they started to pull into it when Elder Willie said, “That’s a pretty iffy gas station, maybe we should look for another one.” The windows were barred and the building was closed, but they decided to stay. Elder Willie had almost finished pumping gas when they saw a woman walking toward them. She was dressed in scrubs and was barefoot. She was carrying her personal belongings and a hospital basin with toiletries in it. She told them that she had been in a car accident a few days earlier. She had been unconscious and on a ventilator for three days and had just been released from the hospital. She asked the Elders if she could use their phone to call someone for a ride. She had been walking for 1.5 miles. Her hands and feet were swollen and she looked like she was going to faint. The Elders let her use their phone, but she couldn’t reach anyone who could come and get her. She had two young children at home, whom her mother was tending, but she was without a vehicle. The APs called the O-burg Elders and asked them to find a member who could come with them to take the woman home. While they were waiting, the Elders sat her in a chair in front of the gas station and gave her a blessing. They gave her some Chap-stick, because her lips were cracked and bleeding. They talked to her about the Gospel and,“She seemed so ready to hear it,” said Elder Muir. When the member and the Orangeburg Elders came to pick her up, she noticed a Book of Mormon on the seat of the member’s car. She asked if she could have a copy. The missionaries were happy to give her one. She has agreed to see the local missionaries and receive the lessons.

 The APs said, “We’re so happy the way things worked out that night. We really don’t think that woman would have made it.”
On Thursday, the APs stopped at the office with some news about this woman they helped at the gas station. She's being taught by the Orangeburg Elders and is on-date to be baptized on June 21st.  :o)


Transfers - Things I Learned from the Young Missionaries!

I always love transfers!  Perhaps my favorite part is hearing from the missionaries who have completed their service and are going back home.  They have grown and changed so much on their missions!

Elder Stadel - Jesus Christ is my best friend.  He will always be my best friend.  I will always be a missionary.  I love having the ability to love.  My heart has been opened.

Elder Houghton - We met one lady who was so excited to hear about the Book of Mormon!  She loved finding out that there is more of God's word.  As we walked away from her home, I can remember thinking to myself, "Why doesn't EVERYONE act like that lady?"  And the Spirit said to me, "Why don't YOU act like that?"

Elder Lee - This has been the only time in my life that I knew I was exactly where I should be.  Drop your pride and follow the Lord.  If your vision for yourself is anything different than President Holm's vision for you, then you're wrong.

Elder Lamb - Duty before desire

Elder Butters I have a simple testimony.  Im thankful for my trials.  The Book of Mormon has meant more to me as a missionary!

Elder Hutchinson - HOPE Hold On Problems End

Elder Welty - President talked me out of going home.  Peace is a gift from God that comes from doing His will His way.


I just wanted to share a couple of things that have happened to me since we've been out on our mission.

Last Sunday, when we were at Fort Jackson, we went outside to check out the portable baptismal font. Nate and Haley were with us, and they'd never been there to see it.  I was walking out in front of my family, Nate, Haley, and Jack, when I tripped on a rise in the sidewalk!  But instead of falling flat on my face, I was propelled - and literally went running - past a tree, where I reached out to catch my balance, but did nothing more than scrape my arm.  The momentum kept me going till I ran sideways, through a flower bed and hit the building - finally coming to a stop.  There is absolutely NO WAY I could have made it through all that with nothing but a little scrape on my arm from the tree.  When I got back onto the sidewalk, I looked back and Nate and Haley.  "Did that look funny?" I asked them.  They answered, "Yeah, sort of."

By then, the three of us were laughing.  Jack, on the other hand, said he was "scared to death!"  He had tried to run after me, but I was too fast.  :o)  I had come to rest against the building by the time he got to me.  He said, "I haven't seen you move that fast for a long time!"

I still laugh, every time I think of it. I never was scared.  I'd have to describe it as being surprised!  Surprised that I was able to run out my loss of balance until I finally came to rest.  We calculated that I had run 15-20 feet!  I KNOW that I had help - unseen help.  I felt it, and I know it in my heart.  Many prayers of thanks went up after that little event!

A few days later, I asked the APs and the Larsens if they had seen my spectacular stumble.  None of them had.  Whew!

 A few weeks ago, we had just walked out of Texas Roadhouse and were walking to our car.  We were parked on the far left side of the entry. I was looking across the parking lot at our vehicle  I was NOT aware of the cement parking curb that was about 6-8 inches tall at the end of the sidewalk  Just as I got to the curb, I was prompted to look down.  Had I not looked, I would have fallen flat on my face!  There would have been no recovery from that tripping!

Temple Sealing for the Lees

We had the blessing of going to the temple to witness Brother and Sister Lee's sealing.  They have been married for 48 years.  They joined the church just over a year ago.  When we came in September, we thought they were life-long members!  No idea they had only recently been baptized!  They chose to be sealed for "Time and All Eternity" on May 17th in the Columbia, SC Temple.  It was a Saturday morning - and what a beautiful morning!  The temple in SC isn't located in the middle of a busy city - nor in a neighborhood.  It's out in the country - about the only building in sight!  The air was cool and the birds were singing.  It was LOVELY!  What a beautiful day for this special couple.  I just love the Lees!
The Lees - Now a Forever Family.  :o)